Schizophrenic Sailor Saturday

“A bad day at sea is better than a good day at the office or school…or even, at times, home’.

I had never put this saying to the test but today, in force 5 plus winds, we put it to the test.

I am relatively new to sailing. I did my RYA 1 and 2 in a crash course in my late teens (in 3 days our whole crew hit a wreckage and capsized and spinnakered into Royal Naval waters and got booted put by the Military Police). I always had designs on logging up enough hours to go for 3 plus but it didnt happen until the day my husband (slightly more experienced than I) took the plunge and decided to buy a boat the whole family could enjoy. We have only owned it a year (and have already grown out of it) but it has changed our lives. Every spare moment we get we hike down to the coast and have become obsessed with tide times and weather.

Today the wind was up, which was fun (although feel slightly nervous when we are on the heel and glance down below to see the dogs upended out of their bed and baby boy astride the keel for stability…..while our daughter just leans back and carries on reading her book). The world and his wife were also taking advantage of the wind and everyone was buzzing around tacking and zipping along. Sailing is a bit like patting your head and rubbing your stomach while hopping and skipping – you have to have your wits about you.

Even anchored its a challenge on choppy seas. For example, making coffee, putting baby boy on potty, getting daughter out of a wetsuit and trying not to wet yourself because it was ages since you visited the loo (and there isn’t one aboard).

Perhaps the biggest challenge is the job I had of hoisting the sails. Sails are schizophrenic. On a calm day you study the sail as it makes its steady journey up the mast and cajole it to take some wind and when it catches you cajole it some more, but all in a very relaxed manner while munching maybe on a cucumber sandwich and sipping tea. On a windy day it feels like you are trying to haul up a bag of concrete that threatens to swing into your face at any moment and rather than studying it’s progress you hoist it as quickly as possible while it has a fit. You do this while trying o to stay upright yourself by some kindof pole-dancing move round the mast. This is made even worse if you are trying to take the sail down. Add a lunatic genoa to the mix trying to swipe you from behind and it feels like you are involved in a pub brawl.

But believe it or not, it was strangely enjoyable and a very good way to spend a Saturday…..

This blog is for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.

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