Whatever made us think that we could turn up at Windermere in mid-winter and hire a yacht to go sailing…..we really must have been suffering from Sea Fever!
The car packed with our spare (for ‘spare’ read ‘leaky and ancient’) waterproofs we headed off to the Lake District. I was feeling a bit like something out of Swallows and Amazons, after all I had just seen the film and our hotel, Storr Hall was on a promontory into Windermere that formed the northern edge of Arthur Ransom’s Houseboat Bay. Two other and arguably more important features of the hotel is that has probably the best view for breakfast in Britain (not my words but person on the table next to us who was trying to impress his mistress….so it must be true!).
A great view at breakfast time!
The other is the Temple of Heroes that was built to commemorate four famous Admirals, Nelson, (of course), Howe, Collingwood and somebody else who was clearly not as famous as all that!
The Temple of Heroes
Exploring Bowness I discovered a brilliant ‘pilot’ book for the Lakes; The Atlas of the English Lakes by John Wilson Parker. The fact that it was in the discounted pile was another clue that mid-winter sailing on the Lake was going to be a bit of a tall order!
A great pilot book for our adventure!
A trip round the boatyard at Bowness made me realise that I really need a another boat, perhaps a nice ‘daysailer’ to add to our fleet of a Bavaria 32 and a Gull dinghy. This would be perfect for sailing in the Lakes or creek crawling around Chichester Harbour, in fact all those places where we cannot take Grace or would be too frightened to take my dinghy! A trip to the London Boat Show might be called for! Look out for my next post!
Boats and Bowness
While we waited to cross Windermere on the Nab Ferry and what looked like was going to be our only chance of a sail, a beautiful steam yacht sailed past. We could only look on with envy!
Lovely steam yacht on Windermere
The Nab Ferry
Coniston Water – looking towards Anna’s Nab
And so on to Coniston Water, while sheltering from the rain in the Bluebird Café, the site of ‘mission control’ for Donald Campbell’s fatal attempt on the world water speed record, I spotted a boat for hire! At last! It was electric, restricted to about 3 knots and had only an hour of charge left……..oh it also crabbed sideways! So no risk of breaking the water speed record then!! We were given a comprehensive safety briefing; ” Stick to the middle. Oh if you get stuck, wave the paddle and we’ll probably come and rescue you”. All very reassuring!!
Bluebird Café – Campbell Mission Control
We weaved our way down the west bank of the lake, past the Sailing Club and passed the ‘iron spike’ marked on the chart and on to the Hoathwaite Landing. Crossing the lake we sailed towards Fir Island and back up the east bank towards Cock Point. The motor started to slow as the battery discharged. We crawled up to the Coniston Steam Launch jetty at Brantwood, the home of John Ruskin. At no point was the navigation complex and the chart book was probably a bit of ‘overkill’!
Sailing sideways towards Fir Island at 3 knots!
The charts were probably a bit OTT!
Crossing the lake again we headed back towards the Bluebird Café, warmth and tea. However, even in a 15 foot electric boat, landing was the usual controlled crash! And of course we had an audience of 12 canoeists, the café, which had just received a coach party and boatman who looked on with despair and resignation. There was clearly no hope rescuing my nautical dignity! Never mind, I lost that long ago on a lock gate in Holland!