Take a quiet bayside suburb in Melbourne that has an expanse of sandy beach, a boat ramp, and a fish and chippery on the foreshore, add a bevy of trailerable, home-built wooden craft propelled by either sail, oar, or single-cylinder engines, and their enthusiastic multi-aged from-all-walks-of-life captains and crew, gathered together on a sunny and breezy Sunday in late February…and you have the menu for a perfect day.
The Wooden Boat Association of Victoria had its annual day at Rye on the last day in February. The mid-morning sun broke through leaden clouds, and the breeze was up. The wind was onshore, and gusty. Most of the sailors prudently put in at least one reef on the main. One of our skippers – who shall remain nameless – didn’t bother with reefing his main, but didn’t set sail at all, and was last seen punting his dory-skiff around the channel markers with the throttle of his trusty Seagull outboard opened right up.
After a break for a light lunch, the M-boy and I arrived with Begonia in tow, but very little prospect of launching her, as she’s quite a craft to handle solo. Lyndsay Symons, the club’s Oughtred ‘Puffin’ boat, was free for a little while, so we took her out under oars alone. The M-boy sat between my legs and helped with the rowing. He’s getting a taste for this boat thing, as every time we go out now he either wants to row or steer. We didn’t stray too far from shore, as with the wind on my back, and even though Lyndsay slides through the water effortlessly, I was providing a bit of windage, and I didn’t want to knacker myself trying to get back to shore.
A quick and dirty race around the channel markers was being organised as we beached. We hitched a ride on one of the larger putt-putts that took line honours. While we were beetling up and back between the channel markers/race buoys we had a perfect waterside seat to see Penny & Jim’s Ness boat Talisman battle it out with Lyndsay: and what a beautiful sight it was too.
To top off a perfect day Penny & Jim offered to take the M-boy and me out in Talisman. Lounging in the bottom of the boat, with the chuckle of water coming from beneath, I asked the M-boy if he like sailing better than boats with engines, to which he replied: “I like sailing.”
Correct answer…and a good end to a perfect day.