When canoe sailing as recreation began in Victorian Britain, in the 1860’s, many people were inspired by John MacGregor’s book “A Thousand Miles in a Rob Roy Canoe.” It sparked a desire for exploring, both locally and further afield. As a small sailing canoe could be readily transported to new places by train or ship, it allowed canoe sailors to go cruising and have adventures. In todays world with most people owning a car it is even easier to get out and have an adventure. This sense of adventure exists in many pastimes, from hill walking to mountaineering, cycling to mountain biking, river paddling to sea kayaking etc. Many of our members also do some of these other pastimes, with the sense of adventure driving them all. But adventure need not be as ‘full-on!’ Many of our members just want to go out for a quiet sail when they can and this is equally important and relevant.
A day out on a lake
A few members out for a day sail on one of the Cumbrian lakes. A nice quiet day, so the sailing is not at all challenging, but sailing in company is a sociable thing to do and is very enjoyable. You are your own captain in charge of your own boat, but have others with you to learn from and help if you need them.
Camping from a sailing canoe on inland waters
Both Britain and Ireland have many large lakes, sheltered coastal areas, estuaries, sea lochs and islands that can be reached easily by car. Sailing canoes are ideally suited to taking to new locations and getting on the water. The OCSG holds several meets each year where members can sail in company and explore some of our larger lakes or sheltered coastal areas. Here the group is sailing the length of Windermere to camp overnight near Ambleside, returning the next day.
Camping expedition on a larger lake or loch
Many of our larger lakes are in areas of outstanding natural beauty, away from towns and cities. Here the group is sailing for an extended weekend on Loch Lomond. Sailing at OCSG meets is a good place to learn how to sail, to improve skills and find new friends to go sailing with. Sailing in company in different conditions allows you to judge your own ability and to work on your technique to become a better, safer sailor.
"Salty sailing" on coastal waters
For the more experienced sailors we occasionally hold meets on sheltered coastal areas. Here we were sailing on the Dart Estuary in Devon. Coastal sailing introduces sailors to tidal conditions and all the many challenges that this brings.
Camping from a sailing canoe in remote and wild places
Once you are a competent sailor, and have met others in the group who are equally competent, it is good to go further afield on extended cruises. Here 5 friends were on a 3 day camping trip on Loch Etive in Scotland. Over the years many of our members have undertaken expeditions of various lengths in many locations around Britain and Europe.
Sailing around the Scottish Islands
The West Coast of Scotland has many islands where the coast is relatively remote and uninhabited. Here camping ashore and moving on each day is a great way to travel and have a real wilderness adventure. Sailing canoes are portable enough to make it easy to get the boats up the beach and away from the water for a secure overnight stay.
Sleeping on the boat.
There are many more inhabited parts of the UK where camping ashore could be frowned upon, but it is possible for a single person to sleep on your sailing canoe under a boom tent. Harbours with pontoons where you can tie up overnight are all around the coast and sailing canoes, like any other sailing craft, can pay a small fee and use their facilities. Several of our members often sail with members of the Dinghy Cruising Association (DCA) at their meets where sleeping aboard is more the norm.
Sailing around Britain
In 2012, Gavin, one of our more experienced members, set off from Southampton to sail anticlockwise around the whole coast of Britain. In the three months he took off work he managed to get about half way around, but bad weather meant he had to cut his journey short. He sailed more than 1000 miles. It was a remarkable journey though, as dragging a boat up remote beaches by himself was no mean feat. He often made use of harbours or local sailing clubs to help with his overnight stays.