With the sun shining, what could be a better way to spend the day than a spot of dinghy sailing? My colleague Nick and I travelled the short distance to Brighton Marina where we first enjoyed the view, then walked down to meet the friendly staff at Lagoon Watersports.
Our instructor, Anna, was quick to get us kitted out and ready to set sail. After ‘showing us the ropes’ (sorry), it was time to gently manoeuvre out of the marina, and into open water. The weather made it the perfect day for sailing, and we were all in very high spirits. Nick had sailed before, so I really had to pay attention to make sure I didn’t knock myself out of the boat – easier said than done!
First thing we had to learn was the names of the different sails and ropes and poles all over the boat. Obviously, being already out in open water, we had to learn fast, otherwise a small mistake could have us flying into the icy depths! We identified the boom (the long pole going horizontally across the boat), the mast (the tall one going vertically up from the centre), we learnt how to let out the main sail and the jib sheet using the ropes and tacks, and how to steer the boat with the tiller. There were many more ropes and manoeuvres to name, but they were the important ones!
After getting to grips with the steering and the control of the sails, we started cruising up and down the Brighton coast, catching the wind and really gaining some speed. It was great to see the famous Brighton pier from the water, that was an experience in itself! We learnt a sailing technique called ‘tacking’, which is the process of turning the bow so the wind catches it from the either side, used when sailing directly in to the wind. Probably the hardest manoeuvre to master because of its unpredictability! When a strong wind comes, (known as a ‘gust’), it can really tip the boat on its side, which is scary but so fun! Most of the time we managed to keep our balance when the boat tipped (when I say ‘we’, I mean ‘I’), but unfortunately there was one gust that got the better of me, I lost my balance, grabbed the boom and capsized the boat! Anna kept her cool and crawled on to the topside panel while me and Nick bobbed gently in the water, trying to figure out what had just happened. According to Anna, these boats are “impossible to capsize”, so I got a high-five for being the first.
Once Nick started to trust me again, I took the steering while he got attached to a trapeze – a harness used to allow people to dangle precariously over the edge of the boat. It did look very fun, but I just didn’t trust myself! Nick was a natural though, and with only his feet on the edge of the boat he looked like a real professional.
The sun continued to shine as we sailed up and down, and the end of the session came all too quickly. We had to be towed back into the marina by Anna’s colleague because if there was salt in the engine, turning it on could be disastrous (oops), then we were back on dry land – though we were far from dry ourselves! The donation of a few Experience Days t-shirts to the Lagoon Watersports team concluded our day, and it was time to relax in the sun for a bit to dry off, admire the views, and head home.
All-in-all an absolutely fantastic day, sailing is a great experience for people of all ages and skills and I would definitely do it again – maybe next time I won’t throw us all overboard! The staff were extremely friendly and we learnt a lot throughout the day, a highly recommendable and enjoyable experience.