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weston-in-the-fog. jan 2003

Well - what can I say? The forecast was looking good ('though that's been absolutely nothing to go on for the last 6 months!). Force 4-6, Westerly. Neap tide - at 12:30 - so the sea will be around for a while longer before disappearing over the horizon. Temp around 10°C. Light drizzle.

So this wasn't an official away day, but after all the disappointments & wasted trips of the last several months, I - and several other nomads - put in an impromptu appearance. Anyone else of the opinion that June 2002 - Jan 2003 has been the worst time ever for wind?

Arriving on the beach at 12:30, I was heartened to see the mushy brown rollers being driven along by the F3-5; and several people already out there having a ball. However, it felt "bracingly" chilly - especially as there was a fair amount of mist making it really damp. A quick check of the car's thermometer revealed a slightly less than balmy 7.5°C.

Other folk were saying it wasn't as windy as it felt(?), and that they were underpowered on their 5.5m2 sails. Time for the 6.2m2 Tush Vulcan again (hmm - I can't remember any time in the last several months that I've used anything smaller!) on the 110l Fanatic Cross. Tony Low was just packing up - having done the early shift - reassuring me that 6.2m2 was spot on.

For a while, I just couldn't get out - there seemed to be very little wind on the shoreline, and dead onshore. That and the chocolate soup rollers conspired against me. Struggling-on, I eventually managed to get out (I'd just experienced one of those almost everlasting weston lulls, and a bout of incompetence) & had a whale of a time. Perfectly powered-up, some great air off the ramps (remembering to bear well away first!!).

Being so onshore, one typically tries to beat upwind to get out. At weston, because the beach is so big, it's possible to go for at least 1/2 mile in either direction from the launch. Having done that, you can play in the swells & waves without ever really needing to go into the shallows where the water's messier. Falling-in on one of my gybes (just to practice my waterstarts, you understand!), I found that getting the rig flying was more troublesome than usual. At this point, I realised I could no longer see the shore. In fact, anything more than about 100m away had simply ceased to exist - transformed into murky greyness by the ever-thickening fog.

Rather disorientated, I set off for what I thought must be land - hoping the wind hadn't done a sudden about turn. I was in luck! eventually, I spotted the end of a familiar-looking line of posts running into the water. Landing by the posts, I was able to see a little more of the land - enough to make me realise I wasn't where I thought I was! In fact, I was up by the pier - about 3/4 mile away from where I thought I was. I must almost have sailed into it!

Slightly disconcerted, I headed back in the right direction, close to shore, looking for the launch point. Eventually, I decided I must have missed it again & headed-in. Stepping off the board into 2 feet of mud covered by 50cms of water made me realise 2 things:

  1. I must have been right down by the Uphill end of the beach, and

  2. The tide had gone out!

Checking my watch, I discovered it was 2 1/2 hrs after high tide - about the limit for sailing at weston. Definitely time to head in - if only I could find "in". At a sailable depth of water, it wasn't possible to see any detail on land, so I just had to keep landing just to check my position.

photo of fog at westonthe view from the beach

Needless to say, I eventually made it back without any trouble (other than a bit of a slog through the mud), feeling thoroughly exhilarated after the best sail in months. Until I found I'd forgotten to bring a towel (Thanks for the loan, Ian - and for the coffee!)

martin farrimond

PS: My web page builder's spell checker has just suggested "festoon" as a replacement for "weston"!

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