Blue Runnings

Race Reviews, GPX files and more from North-East England

RYA Push The Boat Out – Derwent Reservoir Sailing Club

on 21 May 2017


A note before starting this – I am not Sailing People, so if I use completely the wrong terminology, I apologise in advance!!!

Pete and I have been trying something a bit new this weekend; we’ve been around the Derwent Reservoir many times over the last few years – on foot and in the car, but we’ve never actually been on it. We’ve passed the sailing club on several of these trips and mentioned several times that we’d like to try windsurfing. Hop forward a few years and we actually get around to going on the Derwent Reservoir Sailing Club website to see if they have any courses advertised. Better – in 2 weeks time is a free taster day for sailing and windsurfing. Both signed up in lightning time 🙂

We’ve both been on sailing boats before, but it was a very very long time ago and we were both much smaller – as became very obvious when we went out on one of the youth boats! We arrived armed with swimsuits, changes of clothes, Sarah’s retired running trainers, which she’d kept for some reason just incase she needed a pair to trash (or apparently soak!) and other paraphenalia, most of which we didn’t need!

Wetsuits and lifejackets were provided. Instruction on how to put them on supplied by whoever happened to be in the changing room at the time. I managed fine but I have a credible source suggesting Pete managed to put his on not only back-to-front but inside out the first time (apparently that was just how it was on the hanger…let’s not judge huh?!). The wetsuits were blessedly warm even when dry as there was an excellent wind for sailing picking up that made it rather chilly if you were in a t-shirt.


We were picked up by a pair of sailors from the ‘Slips’ where the boats are launched, and after helping hold boats while trailors where removed, we were off, Pete in the cat (much enthusiasm from Pete when he discovered they had one available as he hasn’t been on one for years) and me in something called a Feva which was something like my friend’s Topper I used to go on as a kid.


As the Feva was rigged with double sails, I had a job as soon as I climbed in – pull the front sail tight and swap sides when we tacked. I really don’t remember these type of boats being this small when I was on one many years ago, but I was also probably over a foot shorter! Thomas looked very at ease in it, but I felt very clumsy, often sitting in the puddles in the bottom before I got the hang of sitting on the side again, and feeling even more so when I took a hand at steering! I couldn’t get the hang of the rudder at all – every way it turned felt back to front and it was very crowded trying to get myself from one side of the boat to the other while keeping the rudder over and not knocking myself out on the boom! Thomas was very patient as I nearly tipped us both in more than once, but it was with some relief that I relinquished my control stick and returned to my front sail duties!

Next was Pete’s turn on the Feva, while I went out with Duncan on the Cat. Pete apparently fared rather better than I did with the Feva, but agreed with my observation of feeling rather too big for it when there were two people in it! I found the Cat much more comfortable – both for sitting on and also for steering; I could actually get the Cat to go in a straight line where I wanted it to which was rather more than I’d managed in the smaller sailboat!


I think of the two, I preferred the Cat (it was funny zooming past Pete in it too!) – it had rather more space for two people and felt much more stable, but was still lots of fun. I think if I were on something the style of the Feva, I’d want it to be about 25% bigger so I’m slightly less likely to knock myself out and tie myself up in the ropes trying to fit through rather small spaces!

We took a break for lunch – we’d heard mention of a café but had brought materials for sandwiches just incase. We shouldn’t have worried – The Galley was serving up fab looking burgers and mouth-watering chips, which I eyed up with no small degree of envy as we munched our ham and cheese baguettes (they were nice too, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes you want hot food). If we hadn’t already been out to the car in our rather damp wetsuits which were just starting to chill in the wind (we got sprayed a lot on the boats) then I may have considered swapping the lunch bag for cash and chomping down on some chips too!

We headed out to the windsurfing section (the theory was to try activities in order from dryest to wettest so we wouldn’t spend all day in sodden wetsuits sitting on boats) but the wind had been getting increasingly gusty all day and was blowing back in the direction of the shore – not the best conditions for beginners to windsurfing though there were some more experienced surfers out on the water. We had a go at handling the sails and boards on the ground, and were shown how to get on and off them, but were unable to get onto the water. DWSC have a windsurfing trial rig for training, and we have arranged to go back on a later date to have a go at this and get out on the water itself.


I could see Pete’s eyes light up at the prospect of going out on the windsurfs. We’re both definitely interested in trying it, but we shall see which takes our fancy more – surfboards or a sailing Catamaran!

Derwent Reservoir Sailing Club may have some new members this summer, and we may be using the conservatory to dry wetsuits in the future! We’ll see how we get on, but we’re both looking forward to going back 🙂




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