My intro into the BB11 boat environment started back in 2000 when my son attended a locally organized sailing course. This event, in due course, lead to me selling my 34ft Janeau sailing boat & replacing it with a 20ft wooden dingy.
Having been convinced that the BB11 boat was the way forward, I travelled to Tønsberg and purchased my own BB11 named SIMA.
Once back in Arendal the boat was placed alongside others looking in a similar/worse state of restoration. As I had been advised that my boat was in a reasonable condition with little work required I was expecting to just clean off the dust and wait for the launch day! How wrong can one be?? My fellow restorers politely pointed out that a few items needed repair or replacing. For somebody who had never been involved in wooden boats or restoration work this sounded a daunting task. Words like epoxy, sykoflex and steam bending seemed like words from another planet. However, I was soon to find out that for every problem that presented itself there was always somebody who was available with both advice and help.
The more the work progressed the more my enjoyment grew. Coupled alongside this was the ever increasing number of new friends. It was not long before the eagerly awaited Thursday evening was increased to include weekend working.
Throughout the two year period spent restoring the boat there were many, many “events” that will always remind me of the period. I remember very clearly, when the day of varnishing arrived. Having never varnished before, when the day arrived, and after a sleepless night, I left my house at 06.00 in the morning feeling a little apprehensive of the task ahead.
The result however was a good effort and I was very proud of my little wooden boat when it made its way out of the hall towards sea setting.
As launching of the boats started it did not take me long to realize, and learn about, leaking wooden planks, automatic water pumps and fully charged batteries and how much these simple items would play, not just this first time but in all future sea settings.
However after strawberries and champagne my pride and joy was sitting on the water in all her glory.
Within a few days, the new sails were unfurled and I was straight into the weekly regattas. Having completed regattas whilst working in Abu Dhabi for two years, the sailing was not a problem – although I am sure, some of my crew may have thought different at times!
Participating in my first NM provided an opportunity to meet new friends and sail against different competitors.
Having made it through my summer of sailing, the boat was returned to the hall for winter work/repairs. This period over winter provided the opportunity to meet up on a regular basis for “sailing talk” and have a cup of coffee together as well as working on the boats. This coffee “pause” was to become a stable item in the clubs growth in the years to come. The boat launching was a video of people frantically attempting last minute varnishing, antifouling and checks to batteries and pumps. Once again all eyes were fixed on the boats interior, watching the water creep (or in some cases rush) in. For most, it was over and under control in a short period, but for some it was shoes and socks off and in with your bucket, spending time at frantic bail-out together with a few anxious hours on standby watch.
During my 14 years as a member of the BB11 environment, there has been only minor changes to the BB11 way of life.
But for me, what is lasting, is the atmosphere & friendship that keeps us together while we play in our little wooden boats.