Youth Sailing Week #3 Introductions this morning… Instructor “Tell us about your sailing and a random fact about yourself”… Student “I’m doing Stage 4 and my random fact…. I beat that Instructor (points to Luke) in a race in Ramsey last week”
Izzy Sharpe – your #thisgirlcan Race Training weekend was a huge success! And this moment made me smile 🙂
Well, I’ve seen some incredible things in life, but this was something else. Port Erin bay has delivered yet another scene right out of Attenborough’s Blue Planet. Yesterday we were treated to forty or more dolphins chasing what must have been a mighty good feed of something. They were in the bay for a good half hour at just after midday and then, they came back for around an hour between 2.30 and 3.30pm.
RYA Coach Assessor Alan Jones and our Dinghy Instructor candidates had front row seats. “Seeing the dolphins playing under and with the boats was the most amazing thing I have seen in my life” said trainee Instructor, Sarah James.
In the afternoon our Stage 3 sailors had their own little show as the dolphins swam to within a few hundred yards of the beach.
From the surface I watched them swimming round their food source, making tighter and tighter circles, then the ones in the middle of the fray would breach or tail slap the water before the whole group would dive as one. They kept repeating the same pattern from Bradda Head to the middle of the bay to Traie Meanagh.
I have never seen anything like it, never seen so many dolphins, never watched them hunting…. and all of this happened on our doorstep, in our bay!!!
Last week saw the first of this summer’s Youth Sailing Weeks, we had 24 young people here ranging from Stage 1 sailors right through to our trainee Instructors.
The rudderless sailing bar was raised significantly by Luke, Nathan and Charlie who sailed the Wayfarer back on to its mooring, first time, first attempt – no rudder!
On Friday we witnessed a textbook RYA session, led by the trainees, overseen by our Instructors. Very proud of watching these young people grow up and we wish them well for the Dinghy Instructor course this week.
In two evenings spent on the ocean (mostly within a quarter mile of the coast) we have seen and heard some amazing things… Two peregrine falcons chasing each other, ducks with ducklings chattering away, a pair of razorbills talking to each other making a great noise, choughs, porpoise, billions of very small creatures in the water, doves, guillemots, shags and best of all three puffins!!! All at once, doubling my lifetime sighting of puffins in one go 🙂 We live and work in the best place in the world! #visitisleofman#bestplacetobe#oostwestthuisbest#puffins#lifeisblessed
Over thirty women took to the water last weekend with our This Girl Can events. The weather can only be described as perfect! We had sunshine, just the right amount of breeze, nice flat water and it was warm too. The ladies signed up for Powerboat and Sailing Taster Sessions were in for a real treat and we all enjoyed the best that the Isle of Man has to offer.
The idea to get 7th Wave signed up to run a This Girl Can event came from former Manx Youth Sailing Squad member, Izzy Sharpe. Izzy finished 2nd girl at the RS Tera World Championship in 2010. Since then she has worked as a Dinghy Instructor at 7th Wave, Centre Parcs and now on Lake Windermere. She says “Jen was a fantastic female role model for me growing up, so I love coming back to do #ThisGirlCan with 7th Wave now.”
The original brief was to encourage more girls into dinghy racing and to grow the number of girls in the Manx Youth Sailing Squad. For the last three years Georgia Harding has been the only female member of the squad, this year the balance tipped ever so slightly when Daisy Cope joined, now two of the twelve squad members are female…
Izzy led a This Girl Can Start Racing weekend and we were delighted to have ten junior girls sign up for the weekend. The course started with race training and boat-handling exercises culminating in a three race regatta on Sunday afternoon, before the wind died completely and the session ended with capsizing games and some cooling off in the water. All ten girls were awarded the RYA Start Racing certificate and we have found ourselves some new talent for the 2019 Manx Youth Sailing Squad.
The concept grew to extend the This Girl Can weekend to encourage more women on to the water and with Foraging Vintners on our doorstep we combined powerboat and sailing Taster Sessions on the water with a taste of pink fizz in the sunshine afterwards.
Sailing sessions were really popular and of course on such a glorious day, our instructors were keen to get on board and have a sail too. Ladies were treated to a lap of the bay while they got feel for the ropes and by the end of each hour long session everyone had taken the helm too.
We couldn’t have asked for better conditions for powerboating and there was plenty of smiles and laughter as we opened the throttle up and started planing out to Bradda Head, slowing at the mines round the back of Bradda to take in the stunning scenery, dramatic coastline and the abundance of seabirds and wildlife. “I arrived on the island by ferry seven years ago and I haven’t been in a boat since”. Twenty minutes later Lisa Salinardi was at the helm of the RIB, blasting toward Niarbyl wearing the biggest of smiles!
Powerboat and Sailing Taster Sessions continue all through the summer and it’s not just for the girls. #Everyonecan!
Had a great time at Manx Radio yesterday,
with Beth and Christy on the Women Today program, talking about boats, sharks and Strictly! If you missed it here is a wee clip about my trans Atlantic astro nav adventure / Yachtmaster Ocean exam.
A small armada of kayaks, paddleboards and the pink rowing boat took to the water last Friday to get a closer look at a basking shark swimming around the bay. The shark was there for several hours just swimming along with his gobbag vooar wide wide open, getting merrily plankton drunk in the evening sunshine. This shark was smaller than the previous encounter on Thursday, perhaps just 6 or 7m long.
He seemed to enjoy the audience he had around him, treating folk to some really close passes. At one point the there was a kayak and a paddleboard, next to each other, maybe a foot space between them, the shark swam past them, turned around and swam right between the two of them with his fin placed exactly in the gap. It was truly incredible!
Since 5 o clock had been and gone we managed a staff kayak and row boat outing this time round #worstjobintheworld
Here we are after work last night, Jen Kneale and Wendy Stevens, off Bradda Head, in a 10’6 hot pink rowing boat. It is a beautiful evening, mirror calm, warm and sea is full of life, gannets, jellyfish, plankton. It has all the right ingredients for basking sharks. We get a little excited when I spot something, it is moving too fast over the water for a bird…. could it be? Oh my word it is!!! It’s a SHARK.
We’d been sat at a good distance away from the shark, just drifting, quietly wishing it would come closer for a photo, but at the same time quite happy that the giant is over there. Then we realise we may have drifted in to “the menu” and we are hoping our little pink boat won’t get mistaken for a prawn! Careful what you wish for…. eventually the inquisitive creature did want to find out if we were a prawn.
Mild panic sets in when I realise that I am never going to be able to row us away from the shark at any speed. The only option is to stow the oars in the boat and sit tight. I look at the seagulls around the shark, they aren’t worried by them, I shouldn’t be either.
But oh my word, this one is big! And swimming straight for us. We are treated to an amazing sight, its head must be the same size as our boat almost, its enormous mouth is wide open. We are 10’6, the shark is easily 3 times us… 30+ feet.
It is hard to describe the feeling of complete awe at these majestic creatures, the world’s gentle giants, so close you could have touched it (if you were brave enough – we weren’t!). It is a totally humbling experience, you’re in a tiny boat with a massive shark, there is nothing you can do other than trust the shark. I have to trust the shark, it swims under us, inches away giving us a rare display of its whole body through the clear water. Life is blessed.
Well that was a fun afternoon yesterday. Buchan Badge nautical with Form 2 asking “Who keeps us safe on our coast?” Fortunately for the class they are in good hands, with teacher Miss Ashton being a member of the Coastguard and myself being RNLI crew. We bring our gear in to school, have a bit of a fancy dress session and share some stories of rescues and our activities around the coast.
It is always fun when the youngsters realise there is a fourth emergency service (and it isn’t the AA!), “You can dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard” always a handy tip when you live on an island!