Charlotte will have been working with the centre for 10 years this season and when asked about her involvement in the sport she replies that she has been sailing for more years than it’s seemly to remember! Like many people her first taste of sailing came from a school trip to Benmore Adventure Centre where the challenge of the water and wind coupled with the charisma of the instructors (who were all pioneering mountaineers) gave her many opportunities to further her new found interest in sailing.
“This enthusiasm led me to the Cramond Sailing Club. On one memorable occasion I remember taking my Dad out for his first sail in the Firth of Forth and still have vivid memories of catching a bus home in our cold dripping clothes. After we capsized, missed the tide and ended up stranded in Fife. My father remarking, that he’d spent six years in the navy on Arctic convoys, and didn’t get wet once!”
Her life has not been solely about sailing, but it has been a key part of it and this has varied from flying around in dinghies to sailing across the Atlantic. Some highlights have been cruising the West coast and the Hebrides in a Wayfarer, when force 7 winds and steep seas in the Minch, inspired excitement rather than caution. Charlotte skippered the first all women team in the British Three Peaks Race and has done many different yacht deliveries to many parts of the globe in vary types of weather conditions.
Sailing is not all about winning; it’s about the love of being on the water and for me inspiring this same love in other people. However, sometimes it is about winning, and in keeping with this she was member of the Scottish 420 squad also spending many years racing Class 1 yachts. Charlotte has fond memories of many happy years competing in West Highland week which has been enjoyed by many Scottish sailors and visitors..
With no particular favourite group of people to teach, Charlotte’s just as happy teaching beginners in dinghies, to sailors in Yachtmaster practicals, or acting as a coach/assessor working with the RYA National Coach on coach/assessor courses. ‘It’s about helping people realise their abilities and enjoying sailing in the ways that suit them.’
When not working Charlotte also spends holidays afloat cruising in the Caribbean, the Faroes, as well as Croatia, Sardinia, Sweden and Panama. ‘Anything that floats I’ll enjoy sailing it, happy to try to teach others how to do this. It’s a great life and I’ve been lucky enough to be taught by some of the most skilled and adventurous instructors. I hope the enthusiasm they gave to me is something that I can try to pass on to those that I in turn now teach.’
Broaden your experience whenever you get the opportunity, by trying to sail on bigger yachts if you dinghy sail, or visa versa.
Using different types of boats can make you think more about your pure sailing skills. And may help iron out any bad habits, which may have crept in, particularly if you sail on just one kind boat.
Be kind to your crew by using hesitation tacks, when sailing on a yacht, with a big headsail.
Pause briefly when the boat has just passed head to wind, to allow the crew time, to partly sheet in the headsail while the sail is still de-powered. Then complete the tack and finish off trimming the sail.
A hesitation tack can be especially effective on windy days, or when sailing short-handed.
Think laterally when you’re cruising.
Sixty miles south of the Faroes in a flat calm with no fuel, we bartered alcohol for diesel, with a nearby fishing boat. ‘I don’t know who did best out of that deal, I don’t drink and had lot’s of whisky on board, the fishermen loved the whisky and had none but did have lot’s of fuel!’
Charlottes favourite piece of clothing kit - Rab xenon jacket which is warm, compactable and OK if it gets wet.
On a free afternoon, given the choice to get afloat with any piece of equipment Charlotte would select either an RS 400 as it is fast and easy to sail or a Swan 45 for the sheer fact it is a lovely yacht to sail.
Charlotte brings to the Centre a wealth of sailing experience that is unlikely to be surpassed by many. She is a valued member of the team and she uses her strength’s exceeding well.