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Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Great British Eccentrics #57

I first got to know Erik a few years ago when he was going out with one of my dancing friends. An engineer by profession, a bargee by residence and a boat-builder in a very small way. I was not greatly surprised when on a trip to Sidmouth when he said he was going to launch another boat and furtively opened a carrier bag. Inside was a small yacht.

He explained that the sails were cut out from an IKEA umbrella and a network of string linking the two sail booms allowed it to tack without a rudder. A lead keel would ensure it stayed upright. Erik's email address was permanently marked on the deck with a note asking finders to let him know their location before re-launching. A previous effort had got as far as Calais in France!

So we trotted down to the sea front and held up wet fingers to gauge the wind. Initially, Erik was worried that the boat wouldn't get past the headland but then Russ turned up fresh from the ceilidh in the ford on the river Sid. (…which is another story!) As he was already soaking wet, he readily agreed to wade out into the sea and launch "Stryder" from deeper water.

It's surprising how visible a tiny bright orange sail is. Erik reckons it had got about 400m in 20 minutes before it became difficult to see.

It was headed roughly southwest towards the Atlantic but it may well flip around and head up the channel.

Later, Erik told us it was his ninth boat….
(Edit: 14Aug11, pictures from Erik)
Russ holding the yacht concealed in a carrier bag just before launchPaddy sent this "Stryder" sighting 5 miles south of Exmouth the next day

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