Wandering around the Underfall Yard and the Baltic Wharf, our new favourite place to visit in Bristol, I began to think it’s a place where the sun always shines; even when we arrive in the rain, it clears up and soon we are wandering around under blue skies. As we ambled along towards the Cottage Inn, we stopped to watch five teenage lads who were sitting in small sailing dinghies, obviously about to have their first lesson. They were quite big lads, and the boats were very small, and no doubt felt ever so wobbly as they sat while the instructor gave them the last few details.

It obviously wasn’t very comfortable for them as they weren’t used to where and how they should fit, and there was a lot of laughing and joking between them; one of the boys was called Mohammed, and he decided that while he was waiting, he would lean back against the jetty, with his elbows on it in what must have been a more comfortable position… well the result was to be expected, the boat drifted, the gap between Mohammed’s elbows and the rest of his body increased and into the water he went. Cue much hilarity from all, and one of the others called out to us and told us to post our pictures of the splash on Facebook.

Laughing at himself, the good-natured boy got back into his little craft, as the instructor launched the first boy, and off he wobbled, out into the harbour, and before long it was clear he had grasped what to do, and seemed quite confident. He waved to us as he sailed away and we waved back. Meanwhile the instructor was getting the next boy ready, and he too managed to steer away from the jetty. Meanwhile Mohammed and one of the other boys, were getting ready, the third just sitting, waiting… which was probably more sensible because the other boys both went in, one just slipping and getting a bit wet, Mohammed had a complete plunge and his boat capsized. There was a lot more laughter, from him as he got himself out, and the other two .

Boy number three, the one who was wet, left the jetty, but somehow went in the wrong direction; he didn’t seem as confident, maybe going into the water had unsettled him, but he was the wobbliest yet… and oh dear, the boat went completely over and he was there swimming. He couldn’t understand what the instructor was shouting, to swim round to the underside of the boat, and pull on the little keel to right it. She ran to get the  motor launch and whizzed over to help him. meanwhile, boy number four, seemed to realise what he had to do and gradually managed to head out into the main harbour.

Wet boy was helped into his boat, and he got to the side, but it was the side beside another moored boat, and he just couldn’t  get to the jetty. The instructor came back, helped wet boy ashore, and went to a very soggy Mohammed and got him away… I was a little anxious for him by this time, but he cheerfully called out, “Here I come boys! Third time lucky!” I really admired him.

Wet boy I think was cold and tired, and maybe had lost his confidence; the instructor put him in the motor launch beside her and they whizzed out to the other four who were scooting about, really enjoying themselves. I must say, that despite his false starts Mohammed looked very proficient, and was handling his little sailing boat very well as the wind came up and sent them shooting across the harbour.

Well done boys!

BRISTOL UNDERFALL JULY 2016 (121)

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