Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Sailing (rowing) away

Thought that I'd better get on with this before it all faded into distant memory: I'm back now - lack of easy access to internet hampered my attempts to keep the blog up to date but now I know for next time (if there is a next time). Anyway - the sailing course at the Viking Ship Museum was FANTASTIC. Every day we had some classroom stuff - where we found out about the Viking ships, conservation process and reconstruction, and then we had a sailing session. On Monday we started out in the Faroese boats which are made in pretty much the same way as the Viking boats with the same kind of square sail. First we practiced rowing together and learned some important lessons about how to get the oars in and out without bashing each other too badly, and rowing together (everyone follows the guy in the front left seat) - no whips and drums here thank you very much. Went and bought gloves to help keep the blisters away. Tuesday we got to do some proper sailing and it was a very gentle wind which made it easier to learn about tacking - a normal turn (get that damned sail over here) and wearing - a three-point turn against the wind (get that damned sail outta my face). We were taking turns at the various jobs on board so that by the end of the week we'd all done everything. Wednesday the wind was gusty and the waves were lusty and we rowed bloody hard to even get out of the harbour but once the sail was up we were off. I got to sit in the prow and set the tack which meant that I got very wet but it was soo much fun. Thursday and Friday we were all set for the overnight trip on the actual reproduction boats. We went on Kraka Fyr - a smallish fishing / cargo boat. Gentle winds blew us out of the Roskilde harbour but all but disappeared as we got further out. Our comrades on the Roar Ege (a bigger cargo boat so they had all our luggage and weighed a bit more) slowly caught up with us as their taller mast caught more wind. Eventually it was back to the oars and we rowed around the fiord to the pub (as you do) where we pillaged some beer before making the short trip to the campsite. Roar Ege caught up with us about an hour later with our camping equipment and food. Friday morning - disaster. No wind whatsoever. We TOWED Roar Ege for an hour (gratefully it was my turn on the tiller so I didn't have to row) and then they sent out a power boat to tow the two of us back. A little embarassing but it wasn't our fault that there was no wind and the alternative was to row for 4 - 5 hours (which would have been real rowing as apparently rowing for less than an hour is only manoeuvring). So a wonderful week surrounded by Viking enthusiasts and others - lots of fun, and sun: I had sun tan stripes on my feet and mosquito bites everywhere (and I do mean everywhere). Bought "a few" books.

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