It’s not our constitution.

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No, this is not about the US constitution (I’m UK anyway lol!) but a query for a copy of the constitution of the CVSS sailing group I volunteer with. The sailing club that share our lake had noticed that, though from many varied backgrounds, we always seemed to all get along well without the divisions and politics they were having problems with – so common in our society. They figured it must be our constitution that kept us all so happy and unified and thought perhaps they could get some tips from it.
They were wrong of course. Though we must all read the constitution it was hardly something we thought about. The reason for our lack of friction, I feel, had a lot more to do with the volunteers themselves, particularly the founders, who devote a great deal of their time to it, always smiling and encouraging, without any pay etc. To start with, it takes a big hearted person to donate their time free of charge, in all weathers, on a regular basis. Add to that we take the disabled sailing, which takes someone with patience, empathy and good humour. I’ve found with many volunteers they have someone in their close family who is disabled which tends to expand the heart and deepen the spirit. In addition, perhaps it may also have some bearing that a large number of volunteers are retired and thus have reached the maturity of being at peace with who they are. They are not out to establish their place in society so find it easier to let things pass. Also the water, lake, wind, and sun (when there is some lol!) tend to relax and calm frazzled nerves.
I must admit in the three years I’ve been there, I’ve never witnessed even a cross word (though as we are human beings I’m sure there must have been some). Any needed “corrections” are always given with love and a sense of humour and any irritations quickly forgotten. Even debates on politics and Brexit (we do have a few folks with strong opinions lol!) were tactfully deflated and laid to rest by some nonchalant words of wisdom.
I wish society as a whole could operate in this way, but as stated, it would take more than a new constitution.

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(Just a few of our volunteers – including all days and seasons we have over two hundred I believe)

Catch the wind.

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I’ve learnt so much about life while sailing. Like life there is always a “prevailing wind” or “current”. You can’t change that, but if it happens to be contrary to where you want to go, you can still use it by tacking (taking a zig zag course to your objective). You can “lose the sails” (reducing the pull of the wind) and continue to hold the tiller the way you want to go, (which generally works) but sometimes you just have to “go with it”. You seemingly give in to the wind and circle round coming back at it with that extra bit of speed to help make the turn. You have to learn to use it, not let it use you. Steadfastly maintain your direction but be prepared to give in and go full circle if needed. Just be determined to get there no matter how long it takes, how many zigs and how many zags.

Use it but don’t let it overwhelm you or push you where you don’t want to go, or get you stuck in the reeds. If you wave wildly a “power boat” will usually eventually come along and pull you out (an awesome fellow human or God himself) but better not to go there if you can avoid it – it may take a while!

Embrace the wind, enjoy the ride, feel exhilarated, be prepared to adapt to it, but keep your true course with determination. Happy life sailing!

bitter sweet.

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Contrasts wring my heart today. Hidden beneath the seat of one of our boats are another batch of eggs, while proud parents walk their gosling brood across the jetty to explore the spring. In contrast I take one who has served, now aged, recovering slowly from a life changing operation. He cannot remember now, he tells me with a touch of sadness, how to sail. As I take him slowly out on the lake contrasting his former lifelong abilities with my incompetent navigation, it begins to return.

“Loosen the starboard line, just a wee bit, see, let it catch the wind…” I see the joy of sailing kindle in his eyes, but he is no longer the teacher, the one who takes the disabled out on the boats. The tide has changed, we all fuss over him with hugs, tea and cakes and sailing…

I sense his time drawing nearer as the goslings is beginning, life’s circle coming to an end, volunteer becoming sailor. He keeps a smile but it’s hard. I’ll take him again, we all will, his investment has grown dividends of love and friendship, what he has given he will receive.

Our new associates.

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A mamma swan has decided it seems to rear her babies right alongside us. When reporting for our first CVSS day of the season (taking the disabled sailing) we were astounded to find a new nest complete with six eggs right beside the jetty.
The mother seems perfectly at ease with us and all our comings and goings as we help our special sailors into the boats, even leaving her eggs for a leisurely swim in our presence. She seems to know we’ll not hurt her little ones. We are honored by her trust.

So I’m not the only one!

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(The photo is from bing images as we can’t take photos of our special sailors)

My eleven year old grandson was a little anxious at the idea of accompanying me to my volunteer sailing. He loves kayaking and water in general but wasn’t sure how he’d be around disabled folks. (He was staying with me while his parents were away.)

“I don’t know how to act, I just feel so bad for them,” he explained.

“Don’t “act”, just be yourself, they are experts at that,” I explained. “Show them respect by treating them as you would anyone else.”

He was trying extra hard to be helpful as we helped ready the boats. A normally friendly guy, he seemed a little reticent around all us busy retired folks (it being a week day the younger volunteers  were working). Then the “special” sailors began to arrive. He’d been helping fish out the weed with a long branch (it’s been a problem this year) and one of the teenage sailors seemed to think this a great task and joined him.  They seemed to quietly enjoy each other’s company sharing the task, so our smart leader decided to try him on a kata-canoe together with several other sailors and a carer.

I was drafted to the safety boat from which I noticed a lot of noise coming from the canoe, my grandson’s voice yelling above the commotion. Concerned that he might be making a nuisance of himself (he can get a bit much sometimes lol!) we drew alongside and I asked the carer  if he was getting too rambunctious, but he replied, no he was doing great at getting the others to join in.

After the session ended he came bounding up.

“I’ve never had so much fun and I just made five new friends! I see what you mean Gran , I really like these guys!” he yelled at me.

That was it for the rest of the day. He went out twice more on the canoes not only pulling his wait paddling hard in the hot sun, but getting the kids/families to join in. He was so appreciated that a family, that came for the first time that day, tried to give him a tip! Lol! (We explained that he had had as much fun as their kids and no way did they need to tip him!) but I heard them talking to each other saying they’d never expected it to be so much fun and that they’d definitely be bringing the kids again.

Home exhausted, but happy, he asked eagerly “can I come again next week?”

“You were right about them Gran,” he added, “they were more fun than my regular friends. They don’t try to act cool, they are just themselves and it’s so much fun being with them.”

The bonding surprised me and I was real proud of him. He’d seen right past their varied disabilities to recognise their true value.

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Perfect sailing day, blue skies with incredible cloud formations, the gentle swish of the water, bird calls and fluffy baby swans – heaven on earth!
I had fun learning how to lift and clean the tillers whist the boats were sailing. The lake is currently full of excess floating weeds that mess up the steering so my job at one point, as helper on the patrol motor boat, was to grab the back of the sail boats and raise the tiller so the weeds came off (easier than I thought!) feeling good!

A sunny walk near my place.

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(Above) Some of the boats we use to take out our “special sailors”

(Two below) We call it the nursery due to the number of swan, geese and duck families in residence – looking for a free breakfast.

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(Next 3 views of one of the locks on the Grand Union Canal)

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Gate to the bird sanctuary ( a much wilder area!)

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Two smaller beauties I noticed. (The thistles in the bird sanctuary were like a forest higher than my head!)

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Sixty + fun!

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I had such an enjoyable day yesterday! (I’m a volunteer with a group that takes disabled people, sailing on the lake near where I live.)
First session, perfect sailing weather (sun and light wind) with a great “special” partner – a chatty young girl with a big smile, heaven!
Then adventure! As I took off a second time from the jetty, I noticed two big black clouds either side of the lake. All seemed fine till the wind picked up (prelude to heavy rain) gusting us mercilessly towards the shallow water . With visions of being stuck in the reeds while the safety boat removed their rudder to reach us and those black clouds rained down, I began to wave frantically.
The problem was my companion, joining in the “game”, began to wave also. The safety boat waved back happily, thinking “those guys are really having fun!” Eventually they got the point and came to drag us back to deep water and we all made it back before the skies opened. Everyone had a good laugh about that one!
Adventure over, sheltering from the rain, I sighed as I was assigned as helper on the safety boat.. (The safety boat is always the last on the water if it rains!)
Surprisingly instead of a drenching it turned out to be the funest time ever. Not only did the rain stop and the sun appear but, due to only two sailing boats (both with very expert crew members) to watch out for, the motor boats had nothing to do. Soon an impromptu “water fight” began between us and the patrol boat creating wakes to rock/splash each other, reeling and twirling like a fairground ride. I don’t know when I last screamed and shrieked with laughter so much! (amazing for all us 60 +ers.) Our boat “won” with never a drop of wash water reaching us (well the guy on the tiller was a retired sailing instructor lol!) The two “special sailors” watched from the sail boats laughing and enjoying the entertainment.
Sometimes I feel so young!

Hidden sunshine.

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The day is dull and cloudy, and yet there trails a song,

The water still and placid as the wind pulls us along.

The birds that circle over, tern, swallow and a goose,

The flapping of the sail above, the line that is too loose.

The laughter of my sailor as she spots one of her own,

His craft he’s proudly steering (though he’s also from the home).

Their lives are seldom sunny, each body has a flaw,

Yet the heart that dwells within them still causes them to soar.

The calmness of the water that stretches all about,

Must open up the spirit and let the joy come out.

 

(Thoughts on taking disabled folks sailing).