“Messing about in boats” – TTG

Here are two new videos by Roger Barnes, the English dingy sailor I discovered back in August. Though still very English, he has transplanted himself to western Brittany to enjoy the local sailing, the local company and the local lifestyle. I understand he just had enough of whatever current conditions in his home isle that caused him to uproot himself from what looked like an idyllic life in a quiet southwest English village.

The first video is a well produced little travelogue of the Vela Raid consisting of mostly French and Italian dingy sailors and, of course, one Englishman. They explored the lagoon and islands surrounding the more famous and touristy center of Venice, which Roger described as complete mayhem. Seeing these more remote and tranquil parts of Venice is refreshing and eye opening.

The second video is simply an uneventful day sail close to home as opposed to the grand adventure of a planned raid in foreign waters. This video features an Iain Oughtred design inspired by traditional Norwegian small boats, another boomless sail plan like the Avel Dro. Perhaps that’s a key to enjoying these small craft… never having to worry about cracking one’s noggin. I bought a set of plans from Iain for a sailing canoe years ago. He was living on the Isle of Skye without a website or an email address. Correspondence was by post. It was like having a penpal again. At the end, Roger opines about the joys of such a simple day messing about in boats and communing with nature. Enjoy.


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9 Responses to “Messing about in boats” – TTG

  1. Babeltuap says:

    My username is Babelthuap (spelled it wrong) but it’s an island we passed by on CVN 72. I do appreciate those that love sailing, Use to see people on the Carrier boating all around islands. Closest i’ll get though is Yacht Rock Radio on Sirius. I swore I would never get on a boat again after getting off that ship.

  2. Mark Logan says:

    I don’t envy the future we are leaving our kids, but I do envy their water toys.

    The former is something I came too late for, but the latter I managed at the ripe age of 53. It’s not that tough, and amazingly, easier than board sailing. It’s all messing around in “boats”.
    Skipping over the land gaps (not for the brittle boned or backed)

    Wingfoiling, what all the kool kidz are currently into, and surprisingly easier than it looks:

  3. English Outsider says:

    Thanks, TTG. The second video brought back a lot I thought I’d forgotten. Quiet days out with the boat doing nothing much but being there. An absorbing experience of a quality different to any other. One is, no matter how gentle the wind, required to take the venture seriously and maintain alertness. It’s no place for getting lost in thought and ignoring what’s around.

    This necessity of staying in touch even when all is quiet welds one into the surroundings. Makes one an integral part of them in a way other ways of being there cannot match. It’s not the same if the wind’s rough or the sailing tricky. Then the bustle and activity obscures it. But those quiet days out with the boat were an experience I have not come across elsewhere. I think the man you link to, Roger Barnes, finds the same when he takes his boat out on an uneventful day.

    • TTG says:

      Glad you noticed that, EO. Those quiet days sailing, more so than paddling, can be downright mystical. Ghosting along is a soul quenching activity. Outside of sailing, one of the times I became one with nature was when, only a few years ago, I quietly staked out a spot by the small stream behind my house before evening to catch the beavers at work. I just sat still against a large tree and waited about an hour for the beavers to appear. At this time there were two young beavers and one remaining parent. One cared for the elderly parent less than ten feet from me while the other worked on the dam about thirty feet downstream. I spent another hour staying quiet and still before heading back home. Like quietly sailing, staying still and silent was an absorbing experience.

  4. downtownhaiku says:

    reply to Mark Logan
    If you think wingfoiling is easy to learn,
    then please watch this video

    • Mark Logan says:


      “…easier than it looks”. He had small foils and a stiff breeze first time out. I’d give him a mild morning with the right gear and bet he’d get the basic hang of it by lunch.

      Might seem culturally different than messing around in antique dingys, but it’s not really. It’s the same kind of people seeking the same kind of good times.

      • TTG says:

        Those two in the video were already accomplished surfers. I’m sure they did pick up the wing foiling in a few days. The first day with my windsurfer had me getting on the board, pulling up the sail and falling back into the water over and over again until I could no longer get on the board anymore. I was told it would have been easier if I had more wind. Anyway, it wasn’t long before I was screaming across the lakes of Bavaria. Now that board just sits on a wall in my garage.

  5. Mark Logan says:

    The kite surfers were semi-pro. It’s a serious chore to master that, and his going through the gap in the pilings was plain extreme sport. “You screw up you die” and screwing up was most definitely in the cards. ​

    ​Wing foiling is very different. I found it a snap compared to learning board sailing. Physically less tiring. The drag from the board drops to practically nothing on foils so it’s a very small “sail” which is consequently easier to handle. Instead of half the forces being through the mast step, 100% of it is through you and so there’s instant feedback and corrections. The ability to let it go horizontal makes depowering vastly easier. The foils knife effortlessly through the waves, you’re no longer slapping into moguls. Hence those grey haired guys in the tape going to weather at 20+ holding a small kite only in their hands and barely leaning back. I suspect this one is here to stay.

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