So, I promised I'd tell you about the launching and maiden voyage of 'Retaining Wall'.
(This of course is not the real name of his boat, but as far as I am concerned it is
Himself sailed in Jester for about 5 years with No 2 Son as his crew.
This worked well as No 2 Son learned the skills of crewing and the vagaries of sailing and was, at the time, a nice, lightweight foil for Himself's rather generous proportions.
In 2009/10, No 2 Son moved on to crew with a very experienced female skipper and together they were runners-up for the state titles twice. Himself on the other hand, attempted to coerce Small Boy into crewing with him. After a promising start, Small Boy could not cope with the amount of yelling and ordering about endured by most crews, and handed out liberally by Himself; he lasted two races.That was the season I made my debut as ill-fated (and last resort) crew.
Last year, 2010/11 season, Himself got together with the nephew of one of the other sailors and had a good season, winning the Club Championship on handicap (always a bitter pill though) but, more importantly, gaining a trophy for 'Consistency'. We managed to frighten that young man off however, and at the end of the season he announced he was going to sail 420s as 'there are a lot more young people' sailing in that class. That, at least, was the reason he gave.
And so we come to the 2011/12 season.
As many of you will know, Himself deemed a new boat more important than a retaining wall, even though he had not yet found anyone to crew with him this year. No 2 Son and his lady skipper had finished up together at the end of last season but he was not a candidate because he is too heavy now to sail competitively with his dad. Himself's solution was to give No 2 Son the old boat, Bad Jester, so that he can learn to skipper, and once more try to coerce Small Boy into crewing on the new boat, Retaining Wall. Much to my surprise, Small Boy agreed, even going so far as to drive down to Victoria with Himself, to pick the new boat up.
No 2 Son thought he had a mate to crew for him but this fell through. Out of the blue, No 1 Son, whom we rarely see nowadays, expressed an interest in sailing with his brother. Now, not only has No 1 Son been previously reluctant to sail, but given the combative nature of their sibling relationship, I was surprised No 2 Son was even considering it. But, consider it he did.
So, to recap:
Attitude: Keen as mustard/highly competitive
Experience: lengthy and successful
Crew: Small Boy
Attitude: terrified and guilt ridden
Skipper: No 2 Son
Attitude: nervous/insecure, but keen
Experience: virtually nil
Crew: Possibly No 1 Son
Attitude: doesn't like being told what to do
Experience: as above
Meanwhile, it transpired that Small Boy had a school friend who was also keen to learn to sail. His family had been into sailing, before the divorce, and he had never had an opportunity to actually learn, so when he heard that there were crew seats possibly still available, he was beside himself with excitement. The only problem was that this crew seat was with No 2 Son.
Now I don't talk too much about No 2 Son here as he has made it known that he does not like being plastered across the internet; but suffice to say that he is a rather intense young man with many Aspergery traits and a moderate case of dyspraxia to boot. Social skills and clear communication are not his forte and the idea of him trying to teach someone else (and a little kid at that!) to crew whilst learning to skipper himself was possibly the most convincing recipe for disaster that I have ever heard put forward! I communicated this to Himself who was gracious enough to acknowledge that it could be a problem. There did not seem to be an immediate answer to the dilemma and so as the first 'try out' race of the season approached, it seemed that FOSB (Friend of Small Boy) would be taking the crew's seat for No 2 Son.
With a stroke of providence from the Divine, No 2 son was struck down with a bad shoulder on the day of the trial race. This meant that Himself would take 'Retaining Wall' down to the beach, give FOSB a quick ride and then go out for the race with Small Boy whilst I, the inveterate non sailor, babysat FOSB on the shore.
That's FOSB looking keen in the red shorts. That's Small Boy looking like he can't get away fast enough to the right!
Himself was keen. He was really keen. He was so keen he wore silly sailing clothes.
As Himself was preparing the boat, Small Boy informed me in defiant tones, that he had hurt his leg and that no-one was listening to him and everyone thought he was faking but that his leg really hurt and he didn't know how he was going to sail with such a sore leg! A wave of inevitability washed over me and I brought the dilemma to Himself's attention.
Himself stormed around for a minute but quickly saw the immediate solution.
FOSB would crew for him in the trial race.
Look how excited he is!
To be fair, he initially got very excited about the idea, asking lots of questions and climbing enthusiastically into Small Boy's specialist gear. Small Boy stomped about, or rather limped about in an exaggerated fashion, with a brow like a thundercloud and the inevitable "No-one believes me.." echoing repeatedly from his lips...no mean feat considering the prominence of said lower lip.
Speaking of thunderclouds, as preparations were reaching a peak, the wind began to pick up.
The moment of Christening had arrived.
I grasped the champagne bottle and drew the cork.
"I christen thee Retaining Wall and God bless all who sail in thee..."
(thinks: ugh, maybe a few too many 'thees' in there....)
One of the other gentlemen approached me afterwards;
"That the first christening you've done then?"
"Uhhh, ye-es.." (thinks, 'where's he going with this..?')
"So how do you think it went?"
"Room for some improvement you think?"
Rats. I knew there were too many 'thees'.....
The gang began the process of getting the boat into the water.
All seemed to be under control so I turned my back, momentarily, to put something further up the beach. When I returned a few minutes later, all hell had broken loose.
Himself was standing in the water desperately holding Retaining Wall's nose in what was turning out to be an increasingly stiff breeze. FOSB was on the shore crying and holding his stomach. People were shouting things over the top of the mounting wind:
"Just give him a minute.."
"We're going to miss the start.."
"I'll...sob shudder...be...sob...alright in a minute..."
and of course the inevitable over-reaction from my beloved husband.
"I KNEW IT! I MIGHT AS WELL PACK UP THE BOAT NOW!I KNEW I WOULDN'T GET A SAIL TODAY!!!!"
A few quick questions and it became apparent that FOSB had suddenly been stricken with stomach cramps. Helpful onlookers were making suggestions, Himself was ranting and FOSB was doubled over whimpering and insisting that he had to go out because Himself was relying on him. Small Boy was deathly quiet behind me.
After bellowing at Himself to stop over reacting and quickly assessing FOSB's discomfort, I suggested he dash quickly up to the club toilets, see if he could be sick or go to the toilet, and then come back. Himself then started up again about how they would miss the start and they didn't have time etc etc etc. One thing I have discovered about my Leo husband over the years, is that for all his bluster and volume, he can't take it in return!
"Does it matter if you miss the start? It's only a PRACTICE RACE for F***s sake!!!!"
"Well what's the point if you're not going to be competitive?"
"Do you really NEED ME TO TELL YOU THE POINT???????" I bellowed back. (Bear in mind that all this is taking place at a distance and over an ever increasing wind.)
Momentarily chastened, he shut up while I checked on FOSB again who was still crying and doubled over.
"What about you Small Boy?" I called to him, "do you think you can do it instead?"
Now, this was a gamble. I was pretty sure that Small Boy's 'strained leg' was every bit as real as FOSB's sudden cramps but I was also pretty sure that both of them had the same root source: anxiety! I was banking on the fact that Small Boy would rise to the challenge to help out his dad and sure enough, he did. With pretty bad grace I must admit, but at least he agreed and the two lads started exchanging clothing there on the water's edge, accompanied by groans of pain (from Small Boy, whenever he lifted his leg) and whimpers and moans from FOSB, which may or may not have been relief and gratitude. I encouraged Small Boy, hopeful of the possibility that given the urgency of the situation, he would not have time to think about his anxiety but would simply get in the boat and do that crew thing. I was not helped by Himself who, having recovered his bluster, began to bellow:
"ARE YOU COMING OR NOT????????"
"HE IS DOING THE BEST HE CAN........PULL YOUR HEAD IN!!!!!!!!!" I defended 'our' little lad as he valiantly tried to pull on wet sailing gloves over sandy hands, between hard tears of terror.
Eventually, Himself and Small Boy were away, FOSB was sitting comfortably on the beach wacthing them go and I was standing, shaking my head over the drama of it all!
"Do you feel better now?" I enquired of FOSB.
"Oh yes thankyou."
"Do you think you just might have been nervous?"
"Oh yes, I think that's what it was. I vomited 5 times before I had to go in for my first taekwondo tournament!" he announced, chirpily.
It would have been nice to have known that in advance, I thought.*
FOSB and I retired to the club to have a lemonade and watch the race from the balcony. We hadn't been up there half an hour when we noticed someone coming back in. It was 'Retaining Wall' of course. The wind had picked up to 25 knots and the boat had taken off like a rocket. Himself of course was delighted but Small Boy was duly terrified and, to his credit, Himself had agreed to take him back in if he was frightened.
"Yea, but you'll be cross with me," Small Boy sobbed defiantly.
"No, I promise I won't; just say the word and we'll go back in. Nothing more said."
And he was as good as his word. He was just so excited by the acceleration of the new boat that everything else paled into insignificance.
The following week they couldn't sail because there was no wind. The weekend after that they sailed their first race and came third! Today is their second try and No 1 and 2 Sons make their debut as a team.
Can't wait to hear how that goes!
*It turns out, Himself had known that in advance. FOSB's mother had rung that morning to warn him of the lad's anxiety issues!!!!
"Did you not think that worth mentioning and discussing with me?" I asked him incredulously when he had informed me of this, later that day. He had no comeback.