My apologies for a 2 day absence – but the good news is that 2 pounds will go to Unicef as my offline fee contributing to this blog’s fundraising effort. The reason for my absence is due to the complete immersion of our whole family in the wonderful world of sailing. Saturday’s absence was spent packing in prep for an early rise on Sunday morn to meet high tide. This was interspersed with a trip as a taxi for my Dad and Stepmum who went to a 50th wedding anniversary celebration and wanted to drink. Upon arriving at the venue at 11pm as requested by my Dad as the best pick-up time, I noticed my Dad had experienced a better time than my Stepmum due to the amount of slurred words in his vocabulary and a lot of giggles. When I was younger I hated seeing my Dad drunk but now I just find it amusing. Of course it might well have been the case that he had not enjoyed himself at all, which is why he got drunk, one can never tell.
Regardless of levels of toxication, it really didn’t help the ‘get up at stupid o clock for the tide’ campaign to be ferrying my half drunk Dad and stepmum round country lanes in the middle of the night …..but it was funny. When the alarm sounded at 6 am on a Sunday I couldn’t quite believe we were actually about to embark on a 45 minute journey to launch our new boat for the very first time into water and then go out for the day. It was to be a morning of ‘firsts’ and a morning of challenges.
When we arrived we were in plenty of time to get the mast up before high water. A few other people turned up with their ribs, tenders and fishing boats and everyone seemed very friendly and oblivious to the fact that we had never done anything like this before. Somehow we managed to blend in, complete with 2 kids and 2 (very reluctant) dogs. I manned baby boy while hubby faffed around with the rigging, which was a good job too as I found it all rather daunting and found childcare a convenient excuse for standing aside and letting him get on with it. A very nice chap from the harbour with the accent of a pirate said, “I’ve found you a good mooring with plenty of water”, so strong was his accent that you wanted to finish off the sentence with “ooh arrrrrr” and reply with “aye aye”. Once the boat was in the drink, I put on my wellies so that I could help push it out (my espadrilles not quite the ideal footwear for getting wet and I didn’t want to go barefoot on the stones) and then our pirate friend in the harbour took her alongside the harbour wall (why are boats always feminine?).
2 hours later we found ourselves bobbing up and down on our mooring in disbelief that we had managed to achieve it all without any stress or problems. I was willing to quit while we were ahead but we had all been lulled into a false sense of security. “let’s take her out then” said hubby. “I just need to familiarise myself with the rigging for the mainsail and the jib”. I added “shall we check the tides to see when we need to get back”. I didn’t get a reply as hubby busies himself with all the ropes. We then started to motor out and then before we knew it, the outboard was making a grinding noise and we very quickly became aware of the depth gauge and its reading – we were trying to motor through the equivalent depth of a puddle – we didn’t need a boat….just boots. Thankfully we managed to get ourselves out of it fast but then hubby had a crisis of confidence on which way the handle turned to raise and lower the keel. There was obviously a 50/50 chance of getting it right. Typically, I was convinced it was one way, hubby was convinced it was the other. It wasn’t until we beached at the very end of the day returning to our half tide mooring that he conceded and rang the owner of the boat, yes I was right and he was wrong. I tried not to be smug about it but it might have explained why every time we tried to sail we felt the rudder had virtually no control leaving us drifting into shallow water each time. Hubby would then start up the motor and get us back into deep water again only for the process to start all over again. Needless to say we didn’t make much progress, zig zagging from shallow to deep between using wind and engine for propulsion. A couple of times I hear hubby mutter under his breath that he wished he had got a motor boat, but when we did pick up some speed with wind alone it was bliss and I resented the noise of the motor starting up each time the wind and tide caught us out.
The day was punctuated with baby boy going in and out of tantrums and crying fits when he got too frustrated with being held in one place for too long. He was happy swinging off the ropes on the side looking at the ‘boots’ and the sea while I clutched onto the straps of his lifejacket ready to haul him back whenever he got a bit exuberant. After a while he would grow tired of mummy clutching him all the time, as he wanted to follow big sis who was prancing all over the bow and ducking the jib.
When it dawned on us that we had to wait until at least 7pm for high water so that we could moor again, I thought it was only us that was playing the waiting game, everyone else would have turned in earlier. However, I soon saw a queue of people doing exactly the same thing. When we finally got our boat moored and we were ashore deflating our tender, I saw all the people we had seen in the morning finishing up the day on the slipway just like us. Including a family and their two children who were fast asleep as they carried them in their arms from the tender to the car. “We aren’t the only nutters, I thought to myself”. I then had a brief chat with the Mum who had safely delivered her children to the car and we agreed it was a long day for them, but then, she said, “That sky though makes it all worthwhile” and she was right the harbour had turned a pink, red and blue hue as the sun set behind the masts bobbing up and down on the water. Providing the sailing refresher lessons go well (which we undoubtedly need), I think we might be hooked…..
I am blogging every day to raise money for Unicef. Please visit the site here if you are able to make a donation – it all helps.
Thanks for reading.