Andy's voice interrupted my world of tea, toast, and general
wakingupness, "we're going to start sailing in a moment." Right. What
does that mean exactly? "Nothing to worry about, it should be relatively
smooth." Right. I think that means I'm meant to do something.
We had already lifted the anchor and started motoring out of the bay
where we had slept. "Sailing" must mean that the sails are going to go
up, and that usually means tippiness. But his second clarification meant
not too much tippiness. Ok, so I'm meant to secure stuff down, but don't
have to be too anal about it. Check. Cupboards, boxes, stuff in the
forepeak, check. The kitchen is a mess, I was pondering that when the
call came. I'll put these annoying little gadgets on the stove that stop
pots falling off. And turn off the pan. More pondering, I'm really not
even awake yet. Maybe he meant something else,- maybe he means he needs
me on deck to make the boat start sailing. Right, ok. So I should put
wet weather gear on. But my hands keep twiddling these silly fittings.
"Ok, just hold her there, into the wind" comes the next statement. He's
entirely relaxed and happy, has no idea of the maelstrom of voices that
are going on inside my head. In his world, this is all really very
chilled out and (amazingly) even enjoyable. Right. Steer her into the
wind. That means going outside. That means clothes. Overalls, jacket…
can't be arsed with boots, crocs are fine. It's blustery out, but should
only be for a few minutes.
I stumble up the stairs and outside. He's already off to do stuff so I
go to the wheel and point the boat somewhere. Then I remember to look at
the arrow and point it that way, but not too far that way cos then he'd
get hit by the boom. The arrow points into the wind. Everyone knows
that, right? Well, it wasn't obvious to me.. I thought it showed wind
direction. Ie. the direction of the wind, pointed like an arrow would
point if I drew it on a map and wanted to show the wind direction. Tail
down and head up. So now I have to turn myself inside out. The salty
dogs out there keep telling me to get rid of the arrow anyway and use my
cheek. One old dog patronisngly told me how amazed he was when people
didn't always know where the wind was. We were walking through some
woods at the time, and he said, there, I feel it on my neck. Well, fuck
you, I thought. And wanted to run away.
Back to the cockpit, must try and pay attention. We went sailing with
some good friends a few weeks ago, had an amazing time. One of them
really seemed to enjoy himself and later I commented on that to Andy. He
said, "yup, he'd make a great sailor. He pays attention to detail."
Attention To Detail. Well fuck you too. Shit, mind wandering again,
where's that bloody arrow gone and what's Andy doing anyway?
I look up and somehow the mainsail has miraculously hoisted itself .
Andy tells me to 'fall off'. I pause and look at him quizzically. "That
way?", pointing to my left. Yes. We're going around, in quite a tight
circle, and the boat suddenly lurches to one side. I hear a clutter and
a crash from inside and say nothing, hoping he didn't hear what I did.
Then it lurches the other way and I hear more destruction noises. I'll
be able to sort it out in a minute, not to worry.
He saunters back to the wheel, big smile, obviously happy how smoothly
this is all going. I'm about to give him the wheel back when I realise
he means to put the jib up now as well (that's the one at the front).
Shit. Well, what's smashed has smashed. But maybe I should just have a
peek. Hmm, how to do that without leaving the wheel? "I'm just going to
check the damage inside" I say as low pitched and calmly as possible. He
glances inside, "you might want to push that drawer in while you're at
it". Fuck, I hadn't even seen that.. the cutlery drawer, full of our
sharpest knifes and other eye- gouging utensils, fully out.
Inside things aren't as bad as I had feared. The Cupboard Of Doom is
wide open but nothing has fallen out, guess I forgot to latch the doors.
The kitchen area has just about survived, thanks to three of the four
silly gadgets I was twiddling. No, everything fine. Except my mug of tea
is somewhere I hadn't left it, and entirely empty. Where the hell did
all that liquid go then? Out of a corner of my eye I spy that one edge
of our lovely new sheepskin is soggy,- could it all be there?- I wonder,
Outside again (couldn't stay in too long or he might get suspecting),
and it's clear there's no way to avoid putting the jib up. "What do you
want me to do?" I ask, trying to sound as helpful as possible. "What
would you like to do?" he answers, knowing full well I just want to go
back to bed and pretend the day hasn't yet started. "Well," I reply
smiling as much as I am able, "you know I hate putting that thing up but
I guess I should get more practice". He approves I think. I'm not quite
the keen bright- eyed and very excited crew mate he is probably hoping
for, but at least I'm trying to resist being as dourfaced and downright
rude as my inside voice is goading me to be.
I'm up at the front now. Here's the ritual. Unlock the wire just a bit,
then lock it again. Go to the front and connect up the sail. Then back
to the winch, unlock and winch as hard as I can while also looking up,
behind me, to my side, and at the guy whose driving. The first time Andy
made me do this he pointed a way so that it was really windy and
chaotic. I let go of the cleat at the end of the wire, which
subsequently went flying and wrapped around some more wires and, well
anyway, it was horrible and made me want to cry. We repeated the action
a few minutes later under much calmer conditions, which was when I
relaised he had made it deliberately difficult: trying to give me a
taste of things to come. Well, maybe that's how he likes to learn but
not me. Put me in a foul mood for the rest of the day. Since then, to
his credit, he's been gentler in his teaching methodology.
It went up, no bother, and we sailed, really well, at about 7 knots,
between a few islands to where we were meeting some friends. The sailing
was good, I even volunteered to steer for a while. "Is this good
sailing?", I asked after about 20 minutes? "Yes,"he replied, "but I like
the fact that you have to ask."