Sailing by Karen Hale
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Cruising Captain Profile - Steve Caunter

Steve Caunter
Steve Caunter

In everything I have set out to achieve, my ambitions have always exceeded my abilities.

In 1982 I jumped at the invitation to crew a Heron Dinghy at Crosby Marina Lake with my old school friend Paul Callahan. It was in the middle of the week and we had the lake all to ourselves. I had never sailed before despite having always wanted to, so it was Captain Callahan who took the helm and I was to look after the jib.

The wind was fresh, and to match my sailing experience I had no gear either so it was not long before our swimming technique was put to the test following the capsizing of the Heron which despite our best efforts we were unable to right.  The wind eventually blew us and our capsized dinghy onto the rocky shore which promptly gifted us a hole into our port side.

 

 
 

Enterprise 5085 on route to the Lake District
Enterprise 5085 on route to the Lake District

I was hooked, and it was not long before I was the proud owner of an Enterprise dinghy (5085) which had a very successful winning pedigree and had once been owned by John Myerscough.

Sadly this winning pedigree was not to continue and it was not long before I was visiting the same rocky shoreline at Crosby Marine Lake that had damaged the Heron. On this occasion, the mast of my enterprise wedged into the rocks and each gust lifted the entire hull out of the water bouncing it onto the rocks.  The entire port side disintegrated and sadly became an insurance write-off.

But that was not the end of 5085 following my purchase of it from the insurance company she was fixed up and cruised many a lake and visited other rock shorelines.

Tornado, ready to lunch River Dee Wirral
Tornado, ready to lunch River Dee Wirral

The Tornado single trapeze Olympic Catamaran, 20ft length and 10ft beam with a mast at 30ft this would be my next challenge and we could trial for the Olympic Games, what a blast I thought.  To assist me in my pursuit I needed a competitive crew to help keep the cat flat from the trapeze wire and control the main sheet. Who better than Graham Birch my lifelong pal who had never sailed before but was amazing at pool.

We joined the Dee sailing club on the Wirral a dedicated cat club where they had a strong fleet of Dart 18s and the twice European champion and world champion Gareth Owen. The Tornado was not the multihull of choice at this club but was tolerated with a handicap class of its own starting six minutes after the elite darts.

At first, we would be lapped by the darts which was akin to Lady Dorothy overtaking Easy Tiger but it was not long before we were measuring our improvement by the time we finished ahead of the lead darts.

Following a four-year campaign, we achieved our modest goal which was too competed in the UK trials for the 1996 Summer Olympics and beat one of the competitors in one of the races.

Tricky Business at Gouvia Marina in Corfu
Tricky Business at Gouvia Marina in Corfu

1999 would be the year of my defection from sail to power in the form of the Princess V40 sports cruiser, powered by twin Volvo KAD 44 260hp diesel engines. Tricky Business, as she was called would comfortably plane at speeds of over 30 knots and was perfect to potter around the Mediterranean Sea. I never booked a return ticket or had a permanent berth, I just cruised from one place to the next.

Karen Hale sitting in the bilge looking aft
Karen Hale sitting in the bilge looking aft

Today it's back to sail for me in the form of a Lancashire nobby as they are known. They have a shallow-draught, low-freeboard with a large gaff rig that in its heydey was used to trawl for brown and pink shrimps. My nobby is called Empress built by Crossfield’s circa 1900 and she is currently being further restored to as close as possible her original specification. If all goes to plan she will assist me in a discovery of the Greek islands towards the middle of 2018.

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