Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sailing in Cyprus

After we moved into the second apartment, we discovered a sailing club down on the shore a couple miles from our apartment. On the Friday before we left, we decided that we were going to go down there and see if we could rent boats. When we arrived, we discovered that there were actually two sailing clubs right next to each other. There was the Nicosia sailing club which was more of a windsurfing place with two lasers, and then there was the Sailing Club of Larnaka. We went to the first one and they wanted to rent us lasers at 20€/hour. This was pretty steep for some old lasers, so we decided to go next door. When we arrived, there was a bustle of 8 yr olds and optis. There was a sailing class just starting. The club appeared to have several lasers, several optis, two 470s, and some random boats such as a Hobie 18, a trimaran, and a Laser 16. We soon found out the club owned the Laser 1s, optis, and 470s. The rest of the boast were private.

We talked to one of the instructors about sailing and if we could take out a boat for free and he said he could only offer one of the 470s since the children were racing the next day on the Lasers and Optis. We told him this was perfect! The 470 he offered us was old and well-used. It had a bit of soft spots on the transom, as well as a torn sail, and nuts and bolts instead of shackles in some important places. The rig seemed sound and we weren't going far so after we repaired the sail, and found some old PFDs.

Launching upwind off a beach was an interesting experience. We got the sails up before we put the boat in the water, then one of us held the bow upwind while the other pulled the trailer back up and put on the rudder and lowered the centerboard. Those kids put together the Optis by themselves like this! As soon as the boat was rigged we jumped in over the side and took off sailing!

The wind was great. Ever since we'd arrived in Cyprus we'd been amazed at the lack of sailboats. The weather there is ideal for sailing with strong consistent winds, high temperatures, and warm water. If we lived there, we'd be on the water every day. Anyway, as soon as we got on the water and sheeted in the sails, the boat jumped up on a plane and took off. Sailing in the Med is much different than sailing in Lake Washington. The water is extremely salty and therefore much more buoyant so the boat handles differently. The other difference is the waves. The waves were a couple feet tall, but unlike the Lake Washington waves, these were spaced much further apart. We took advantage of this by surfing down them.

We mostly spent the time sailing around and just enjoying being on a boat after a couple weeks of no sailing. Neither of us had ever sailed a 470 before so it took a little time for us to get completely comfortable with it, but not too long. After a close call with some rocks, the wind started dying so we called it a day and headed back in.

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