A Great Sailing E-mail Group

This is one I recommend, called Openboat. It has 1534 members from all over the world, not just England. I have just joined it.

This is the official description:

Openboat is dedicated to the cruising of open boats in coastal or inland waters.

Run on behalf of the UK Dinghy Cruising Association, it provides a forum for discussion and the interchange of information and expertise on open boats and dinghies, cruising grounds, technical and safety matters related to dinghy cruising, supply of equipment suitable for such cruising, and a place to post information about rallies and passages organised by associations and individuals.

You don’t have to be a member of the DCA to join – any dinghy cruiser, armchair, would-be or actual, is welcome. Newcomers are moderated while they test the waters. Drifting off topic is tolerated within reason. Consider it the equivalent of the sailing club bar!

Here is the website of the Dinghy Cruising Association which has excellent relations with the Fédération Voile-Aviron in France. I think I will be joining the latter next month.

Sailing small open boats and dinghies for reasons other than racing is something that is coming into its own. Many have sold their yachts because they represented an unmanageable financial outlay for mooring in a marina and maintenance. They bought boats that could be transported on a trailer and towed by an ordinary car, rigged quickly and simply and made into a cosy tent with a sheet of canvas thrown over the boom with the boat at anchor or pulled up onto the beach for the night. When several people do this as a group, it can be a great way of building friendships and a sense of togetherness. Cruising with small open boats, nearly always under 16 feet, helps to take the snotty elitism out of sailing, and makes it a very human experience.

There are occasional clashes, as one would find in any community with a common interest. It isn’t just the religious forums and blogs? Nevertheless, we can get precious help and information on rigging, repairing damage to boats, navigation, meteorology, safety rules and just about everything. If we’re not arguing about Calvinism or Western Orthodoxy, we can debate what we call the bits of string or elastic used for tidying up the mainsail when its down! Kind of puts perspective on things…

I got to know about this forum through my correspondent David in southern England who sails his modified Mirror just about everywhere. Some of the members are distinguished French boat builders and teach ordinary people to build their own and save a packet of money. Isn’t the Internet wonderful when put to uses like this one!

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