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nomads visit to mudeford, 15th november 1998

"The shallow waters of Christchurch Harbour are very popular with boardsailors of all abilities, but for those who prefer more of a challenge on the open sea there are beach areas solely dedicated to them."

A Christchurch Web Site

I like Mudeford! I don't know why because every time I've sailed there, I've had some sort of problem. The last time was with the Nomads in 1996 (doesn't time fly) when I tore the ligaments in my ankle after trying to show off with a big jump. However, the conditions were excellent and I still regard it as one of the nicest sites on the south coast. Maybe this time would be better.

A cold but sunny day greeted the nomads arriving at Avon beach. The wind, which appeared to have steadily picked up as I approached the coast was cold and northerly. This meant that the wind was largely offshore with a large and a worrying wind shadow created by the low cliffs behind

Having wasted my money on a car park ticket, I arrived just in time to meet Mike and Pierette hitching their trailer back on to their camper. The majority of Nomads having decided to look elsewhere for wind.

Not to worry, Christchurch harbour appeared to offer a large expanse of flat water with relatively unobstructed wind. Indeed, several sailors could already be seen enjoying the planing conditions.

I parked alongside Ian and Neroli who were tucking into lunch and summoning up enough energy to get rigged up. Paul, Jill and Ben arrived shortly after followed by Keith Shepherd. Geoff Pook and the younger members of the Edwards family had already rigged and could be seen enjoying themselves on long boards in the middle of the harbour.

After accepting Ian and Neroli's hospitality, in the form of Coffee and a warm van, it was some time before we eventually decided to rig big sails and get going.

Most people rigged their biggest sails but risked short boards. I was the first of the bunch to rig and made my way into the water. This is the first time I had sailed in the harbour and so was unsure about the depth of water. Packing a new 39cm fin I felt it wise to wait until the water was at least waist deep before launching. After a 30 yard wade the water seemed comfortably deep so of I set only to be catapulted off 10 yards further on as the fin hit the bottom.

Determined not to repeat this highly embarrassing experience I determined to wait until I was sure of deeper water so I kept wading and wading and wading and... Oh bugger! I'd reached the other side. Particularly annoying was the sight of Geoff, John(Jnr) and Jane Edwards quite happily sailing up and down. Their long boards, combined with smaller fins and less ballast giving them a much shallower draft.

I turned around to see Ian beginning to discover the same problem for himself. We decided to sail toward the harbour entrance, expecting that this, at least, would have a deep channel. Not so, unfortunately. After 50 or 60 yards Ian dismounted spectacularly, and immediately set about checking his fin box for signs of damage. I followed suit a few seconds later.

After this, there was nothing we could to but trudge back to the beach. Ian decided to get at least some sailing in by taking his fin out and trying to sail his now fin-less Screamer back. On the way we met Mike, Paul and Keith who, promptly (with the exception of Keith) did an about turn and together we returned to the car park.

By this time Mike Pristo had arrived but decided against going out after seeing our predicament.

A quick recce was made of the surrounding areas to try and discover an alternative launch site but, in the gusty offshore conditions with the tide ebbing strongly, nothing looked worth the risk.

So, another slightly disappointing trip to Mudeford. Unusual in that the problem was not a lack of wind but a lack of water. Still... I like Mudeford! Perhaps next time.

Carl Edgar

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