My boat, in windy conditions.

Today was beautifully sunny with temperatures of around 16 celcius. A mountain bike ride was tempting but since the weather is unlikely to be so good for much longer I thought it more prudent to sail my pedal powered dinghy. The forecast was for some strong and gusty winds. I’ve sailed the boat in windy conditions previously and it didn’t seem to cause me any problems so I just expected the wind to add a little excitement.

I began by sailing northwards on the canal and the wind was distinctly behind me. Due to the trees which line much of the canal bank the wind never seems consistent. In places the water surface was rippled whilst other patches looked calm. On my outbound journey I only once found the boat being blown sideways. I passed my usual turning point at the Cowling slipway to continue to the famous graffito on the wall of a bridge which reads “Shirley Animal”. Here the wind resisted me somewhat as I tried to about turn. My intention was to sail past my starting point and turn a second time at the ice cream parlour. The longer trip would be useful to find out whether I suffered leg cramps now that I’m supplementing my electrolytes. I returned past the untidy boats which have been moored at the slipway for some time. They have structures cobbled together with pallet wood and one bore the name “Mary Jane”. At the back it carried a small, translucent plastic greenhouse and I wondered if it contained tomato plants. What a stupid thought! The leaves of marijuana plants were clearly silhouetted, true to the boat’s name! As I gazed across a woman in the cabin waved at me so I reciprocated.

Shortly after this I passed under a bridge into a stretch with few trees to shield me and found that I was fighting to keep my chosen course. Under the next, much narrower bridge the wind was funneled through the opening and I struggled to power the boat past. The wind must have picked up and I was being blown all over the place as I passed my start point. I decided to turn after the next bridge where boats are moored and here the wind prevented me from doing a simple U turn. I had to stop and reverse in order to finish my 180 degree loop. I didn’t want to struggle along the exposed part before the ice cream parlour so I returned to the start point and managed to dock with no drama.

I was rather surprised to find that I’d averaged 2.7 mph according to the app. Strava. I only managed the exact same average when I recently tried to beat 2.8 mph and only on the following trip have I ever averaged more than 2.7 when I completed my 40 minute journey at 2.9 mph. It seems that the wind makes no difference to my average speed and may even help. On my final section with a strong wind behind me I managed to spin the pedals very quickly so maybe reached my highest ever speed due to wind assistance. Strava is unfortunately not accurate enough at such slow speeds record this information. Despite having to cut the trip 20 minutes short I’d had a good time and hope to get at least one more sail in before the weather turns.

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