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For many people, small boat sailing is all about racing dinghies around the buoys at their local pond. This can certainly be fun and very rewarding for the winners. But have you ever considered sailing without the constraints of the racecourse, or the rules and tactics that go with it.
Adventure sailing is all about breaking free from these constraints and using a small boat to go out into the wild and explore your environment. The UK is ideally suited for this type of outdoor adventure in that it is surrounded by thousands of miles of wild coastline where man has made very little impact and nature is still there in abundance. For the less adventurous there are numerous sheltered estuaries and many navigable stretches of river, whilst easier still we have many large and small lakes. Even on such rivers as the Thames you can travel for miles without meeting another soul.
Sailing canoes were at the forefront of new adventure activities that first became popular in the second half of the 19th century. The Victorians invented recreation for the middle classes. In 1865, the same year that Edward Whymper climbed the Matterhorn, John MacGregor wrote "A Thousand Miles in the Rob Roy Canoe". With this and his subsequent books MacGregor started a craze for adventuring in canoes which lasted for thirty years and nearly all those early canoes had sails. This was at a time when the only real transport was the railways. Today, with personal transport and a fast road network, sailing canoes as a means for getting out and having adventure makes more sense than ever before.
Sailing canoes are very portable and can be easily carried on the roof rack of most cars. They are quick to rig and easy to launch. Unlike most dinghies they do not need a slipway, which greatly increases their accessibility to water.
They are small, light craft that are easy to get on and off the water and up the beach. They are easily moved with the aid of a trolley which is small enough to go in the canoe with you whilst you are sailing. This allows you to get off the water wherever you choose, unlike most sailing dinghies which have to get back to the car and trailer.
Being small and light means that you do not need large sailing rigs to move you along and, if the wind dies, their low drag hulls are as easy to paddle as any open canoe without a rig.
Sailing canoes generally have lots of stowage so that they can carry lots of gear. They have the ability for you to go off on multi-day expeditions and increase the range of a trip. To see examples of the range of trips that our members have undertaken have a look at the Expeditions section of this site.
Adventure need not only be a challenging expedition, it can also be a leisurely sail for a few hours on a sunny afternoon on your local pond. Sailing canoes can be rigged and launched in minutes so that it is worthwhile going out, even for just a few hours.
Sailing in the company of other canoe sailors is a great way to travel and explore. On the water you are your own captain and have independence and yet have friends to help carry boats up a rocky beach at the end of the day, or to sit around a campfire in the evening.
The OCSG is a great place to meet new people and gain friends, with whom you can go and share adventures.