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This is me about to prove my undying love for my husband by crewing for him in today's race since Small Boy has completely piked out. Do you like my life jacket? That was before Himself realised it was still on the tightest setting as determined by Small Boy. I was relieved when he found a buckle on the back to 'let out' otherwise I may have passed out before we even got into the water.
The morning forecasts were for fresh breezes, 13-15 knots.
"Hmm, that might be a bit lively for a first time out," Himself mused.
Cheerfully, I put away my Volley sandshoes. (You know that only three types of people wear Volleys don't you? Sailors, roof tilers and tennis players and I suspect tennis players have moved on.)
Later that morning, thinking I had dodged a bullet, I was quietly procrastinating with the Rubik's cube. There are levels of procrastination you know. The Rubik's cube is pretty high order time wasting! Himself peered out the window and hurrumphed that it was a 'perfect day' for sailing. "Would sailing be a good form of procrastination?" he enquired, obviously deciding the wind would not be as forceful as it had been forecast. Suddenly, writing an accountability report was starting to look good. But I am nothing if not a woman of my word and so I attired myself (as seen above) and prepared myself for the ordeal.
A word on the attire of sailing. Now, I am sure there are tall, tanned, athletic, blonde haired, great looking girls who look stunning in sailing gear. I am equally sure that most of us look RIDICULOUS!!!!! For a fair skinned, delicate flower like myself whose chief allure lies in make-up and a good hair dryer, sailing and its attendant practical wear is anathema.
By the time we got down to the beach, the wind was up. And I mean up. All the seasoned sailors viewed me with guffaws of delight and disbelief as they realised what I was about to undertake. First there were the comments re couples sailing together: 'on-site divorce lawyers', draw a line in texta through the middle of the boat, learn to say Yes Sir!!!. But then they moved on to the more serious issue: 'how many times have you sailed before?', 'do you know how strong the wind is going to be?', 'are you sure you know what you're doing?'
This photo was NOT taken yesterday. Note the relatively calm seas! I was too busy worrying about a number of things to be taking photos.
So, how did it go? Well, I have never spent a longer 2 and a half hours in my life.
I dunno....as we were going round the course I thought to myself, 'childbirth or sailing?, childbirth or sailing?' I still haven't decided which was worse. Both seemed endless and after each one my first words were, 'I'm never doing that again!'
"Did the size of the waves freak you out?" asked the concerned onlookers as I stood on the beach shivering violently with the trauma of it all.
"No, the ROPES freaked me out!!!!!"
The main problem, apart from me having NO idea of what I was supposed to be doing; being totally unaware of anything other than the boat I was in and the water directly in front of me; and hyperventilating constantly; was that I was technically blind. Unwilling to risk my expensive vari-focal glasses, I set sail with nothing but Himself's sunnies. The combination of the darker tint, my lack of optical focus and a frequent face full of salt water meant that when Himself screamed at me to 'let off the purple and black rope', I screamed back at him,"THEY'RE ALL BLACK!!!!!!!!!!' (This was not strictly true as there was a red one and a yellow one which I could see, but they didn't need adjusting! Well, not yesterday they didn't anyway. )
I managed to stuff up every tack by either: failing to let the jib off, failing to pull the jib on fast enough, failing to rotate the mast, hitting my head on the boom, slipping and falling down the face of the boat as we heeled to 20 degrees off vertical, forgetting to let off the barberhauler (I know..I know...WTF is a barberhauler????) or .....no, maybe that's just about it....
The best part of the day came when we finished. The finishing line was out to sea and afterwards we still had to tack (Oh God NO, Not again!!!) and sail back to the beach. But my ordeal was not over. Our boat has a fixed rudder and our beach has a sand bar which means to get back over the sandbar without ripping your rudder off, you have to put the boat up on quite an angle (higher than this at right). At this point the centreboard, or balancing point of the boat has also been raised to prevent the same ripping off scenario and so the boat becomes very unstable. About 10m from the beach, with me too tired to do anything to help, we lost it and put her over. Now in theory this is not a huge drama; I am supposed to swim to the front of the boat, hold the hose and form a kind of human anchor, the boat will turn herself around into the wind (or something...don't ask me) and Himself then hops onto the protruding centreboard and levers her back into upright position. Theoretically.
The first problem was that I went in next to the mast and sail and got myself tangled in all the ropes (see what I mean about ropes?????). I began to swim over the sail towards the front of the boat and heard Himself shouting from behind the boat. Thinking I was making matters worse by going over the sail I reversed and went around to the back of the boat and swam up next to Himself who was not at ALL impressed by my logic. "Get to the front and GRAB THE NOSE," he bellowed, somewhat unreasonably I thought until I swam past him and suddenly realised I had nothing to hang on to and was being swept further and further away from the boat. I swam harder. I kicked harder. I called out to Himself in distress as he shrieked something undistinguishable at me. Eventually I stopped swimming and just shouted 'Help, help' at the top of my lungs. With incredible relief I saw two friends streaking along the beach to help us. With tears in my eyes I rolled onto my back sobbing with exertion as Himself's furious screaming started to take shape in my brain.
"PUT YOUR FEET ON THE BOTTOM"
We were in waist deep water.
He's still speaking to me. Just. My damaged physical state has rendered it inadvisable to scold.
That's 'boat burn' a combination of grazes and sunburn where my constant resting on my knees wore off my sunscreen. I have spared you the two multi coloured bruises on either side of my upper thigh where I rested against the side stay track... (metal and sharp!)
So will I ever do it again? I don't know. Like childbirth, the memory fades so quickly. When he asked me why I didn't enjoy it all I could think of was a recent email describing stress. Holding a glass of water in the air is easy for a minute; but try doing it for two and half hours. That's what sailing was like for me.
Oh. And we came third. Out of seven!