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Kubbar Campout, aka 13 on a Beachcat!

October 11, 2010
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This weekend saw our first Cat Club Campout in nearly a year, and it was sort of a success. When I say a success, I think a lot of people learnt quite a lot about long distance cat sailing! For example: I found out it’s much faster to sail without a crew… more on that later!

As I predicted at our planning meeting last Sunday, (despite the forecasts) the wind was South Easterly (on our nose) for our trip to Kubbar. I knew it would be because it always is! The first hour was slow, but we held a steady pace, and expected we could make it before dark fell at 6pm. Having left only one hour late at 10am, we were one sixth of the way by 11am. We were wrong. We made it about 80% of the way. With 6 miles to go, the wind died. Completely. We were faced with a simple choice – call Captain Kumar to bring the magnificent Dive Caroline boat and tow us in, or wait for the wind which we were expecting in the small hours. Personally, I was there for the sailing, I’d have been happy to lay quietly on the boat watching the stars.

Well, at 8pm Marc sensibly got Kumar to start hunting for our newest owner. We chose him because we knew he didn’t have a light on the boat (what a plonker), and we also knew he had become separated from everyone else, so there was no-one else to shine a light on his boat when any drunken boats came roaring at him from Kubbar. I have to admit, I feel a bit bad for not taking spare torches and checking everyone had one. I also completely forgot to check everyone had paddles! Next time – it’s on the planning brainstorm already for next month!

The gathering of the sheep took 3 hours, so at 11 pm we were hauled exhausted onto the island. The BBQ was alive and kicking, thanks to Flit, Natalie and Waleed; but the crew weren’t – it was a fairly short meal, followed by a prompt retirement.

The handsome Marc and I pitched half our tent by the sea – it was frankly too hot to put the flysheet on. We also left the flap wide open. It was a magnificent view – stars above us, and sea in front. And we crashed. I slept like a log – except for the weird dream in which Hamad was the bad guy from Ghost, and he tried to steal Daafsha’s food bowls. And of course the raging winds blew off the sea, straight into our tent and woke us at 3am. I was a little worried about people’s boats blowing over since 5 out of 7 had left our sails up. Since I have complete faith in Murphy’s Law, I turned my boat to face the direction we were heading next. I was right. The wind blew from the mainland! Had we left at midnight, we would probably have got there in a few hours!

(Image: 7 beachcats hauled nto a beach. A tent is pitched with no flysheet, and half the tent fabric is mesh – specially designed for desert camping and stargazing)

Oh yes, I must tell you about Hamad. Hamad saw from Marc’s profile on Facebook that we were sailing to Kubbar, so he pitched up and asked if he could come – not realising it was an overnight trip. Thank goodness, since Valentino (Marc’s crew) had been roped into teaching that day, and couldn’t come. Poor soul. To be fair tho, I suppose that is why the Kuwaitis flew him out from Bulgaria! So anyway, with nothing but our spare tent and some of Marc’s oranges, Hamad emptied his keys, and joined us on our weekend campout. How cool is that? I might add that this is the same Hamad who donated his Optimists for the use of our club and their families….

So anyway, the next morning saw a slightly more cheerful crew gathered around the dead campfire for breakfast, and somehow my marvellous, considerate husband managed to present me with a well brewed cup of tea. What a star! It was decided that we’d set off quite early, and we were off the beach around 8am. A midway time of 12noon was agreed on – if we weren’t midway by noon, we’d call Kumar for a tow.

(Image: a few tents and sailors milling around on the beach in the early morning sun.)

We had the wind on the nose again, just as I predicted at the planning meeting on Sunday. We had an amazing beat on a port tack to North Buoy – the water was crystal clear – so clear that Haley thought we were going to hit the corals we sailed over! Once past North Buoy, we tacked towards the west, but that was no good as the current was sending us down to Saudi. But back on the port tack the wind died. Totally. So, back to starboard, jib out and we let the current push as down. As we moved South, that generated a little apparent wind, so that we could gradually point higher, which got us out of the doldrums. No such luck for Emma, Seth and Dan, who simply couldn’t drag themselves away from the island!

Eight thirty, and Emma made the call (I just checked the time stamp on my mobile!!) Sea sickness, paired with exhaustion, were ruining her morning. Kumar went to drop off Waleed’s wife and kids at the Sea Club, and then he returned to collect the three Darts who were still stuck. Then of course, the wind picked up. It took Kumar about an hour to catch up to the next boat in the fleet, and Haley and I were desperately racing, trying not to let him catch us. He did, of course, but not till we had passed Sea Island. I couldn’t bear the thought of losing the steady breeze in my sails – after all, I was there to sail – but Haley wanted to “go fast”. So, I threw her in the sea and, lightened of it’s burden, my Fuzzy Duck took off and positively started flying. (Don’t worry, Kumar picked Haley up!)

(Image: Haley, a 13 year old girl with red hair and a cheeky smile, crewing on the catamaran.)

Marc was ahead of me at this time, but Kumar apparently ignored him, and went straight to Hossam who was leading the pack. Hossam, of course, also refused a tow, and it has to be said he hit the shore very soon after the convoy – there were still sails on the beach! At this stage I had flown past Marc (who then stopped trolling, as he doesn’t like being beaten, even if he isn’t competitive); with my jibsheet unhooked and my string in place, I held a steady speed even on a dead run. With Pink Floyd on my Shuffle, I kept finding my boat picking up speed and demanding my right foot (where the jib-string was tied) to sheet in; and then I’d remember my mission and bear away again; with the reassurance to myself that as soon as a hit the shore I’d offload the coolbox, harness up and go back out for some singlehanded trapezing.

And then my mast fell down. I was gutted. I had to take Pink Floyd out of my ears and lock them safely in my pelican box. I plonked my butt on the foot of the mast, and thanked my lucky stars I’d ditched my crew, since her head would have been in the mast’s path had she been on the boat. Then I regretted not having a crew, ‘cos I could either sit on the base of the mast or swim to undo the halyards to take down the sails, but not both. As I was tying the mast down with the righting line, my handsome, most awesome husband came to my rescue. So, he sat on the mast while I did the swimming.

(Image: The front hulls of a Dart catamaran, with a mast sticking forward between the two, being towed by a Hobie Cat with pink sails goosewinged.)

When all was rolled up and sort of secured, he tied me to his boat and started towing me in. (I mean, he tie my boat to his, not me!) We made great progress, until the wind died with about two hundred metres to go! Never mind, Hamad and I started paddling, and a hundred metres later, Steve & Gang brought the club boat to our rescue and towed us the rest of the way.
So that was it. People finished de-rigging their boats, returned random fins and torches to my boat (together with a heap of sand – do you not know how anal I am about sand on my boat? If not, ask Marc – he’ll tell you about he even brought a bucket of water to the shoreline to wash my boat before we launched, simply because he forgot I need to clean my boat before I sail it….)
So, anyway – lessons learned:
1 – Take a good torch
2 – Take phone numbers
3 – Check your pins – it’s so often the 25c clip that sinks the boat!
4 – Be patient!!
5 – Singlehanded sailing is much faster!

Personally, I was there for the sailing, and I got plenty of sailing, so it felt like a success to me. I’m not really sure how the others felt. I was sorry that we didn’t get to enjoy sundowners together, and I was very sorry to have been exposed to Marco Polo (see, it even sounds like a disease)! Oh yes – the new Club Record??? I guess 13 hours on the water beats the previous best of ten hours. However, Emma, our ten hour record stands as the longest ever catamaran sail in Kuwait! We are still the champions of long haul sailing!

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