...All I ask is a tall ship & a Star to steer her by.~ John Masefield.
When I sailed I used to sail Moths ~ not like these! ☺ These were just coming out & they were so lightweight they broke if you looked at them the wrong way. They still look like they'd smash to splinters in a delicate little breeze but the Moth had two major advantages in my book: they flew like the clappers & they required no crew. I have always preferred solo sailing ~ & being competitive I really only ever liked racing. I liked bad weather. I liked fast boats ~ & when I could get it I liked being the trapeze man. If I could go back 20 odd years I'd like to try one of these ~ just the once. Just to say I'd done it. Just so I knew how it felt to fly a boat.
I can't say I've missed sailing, not really being the sporty sort. I can ~ I just can't normally be bothered. Give me a good book & my computer screen any day! Just the same our fellow~worshippers are boaties & what boaties enjoy talking most with other enthusiasts [though that is not a requirement!] is boats & boating & I am very good at talking. What's more I know a little bit about boats. I could sail practically before I could walk & while I absolutely loathed it I have done the cruising thing though in my book hell would look very like being confined on a boat in bad weather!
Anyway, our friend has just bought himself a smaller version of the Laser. I was never a fan of the Laser. For a Moth freak they were heavy & slow & even after they made Olympic status I still didn't like them. Besides they were a 16' monstrosity that carried way too much sail area for my 5'5", 7 stone nothing. I'd have spent a lot of time in the water. I know I would because my first season on my Moth I spent so much time swimming the rescue boat used to follow me round picking up the buoys as I rounded them & following me home. I was inevitably the last boat home. My second season I'd gained another 1/2 stone & was lethal up to about 20 knots!
So my friend has been fixing his new possession up & like any sailor I've ever known was keen to put her in the water & show her off ~ & then get someone else to try her out so you can compare notes. I was that someone else. Dorky me actually agreed to this! Seriously, I haven't set foot on a dinghy in more than 30 years! And I'm now over 50! Sailing conditions in our bay are dodgy at best & my kids have all heard the story of how I once sailed backwards around Coochimudlo Island! Sadly a true tale.
The girls came with me: Star to watch cautiously from the beach; Liddy to join me on board. Now my kids have done very little sailing & what they have done has tended to be on something quite a bit bigger than a 14' dinghy. Liddy had no faith in my abilities at all & no real idea. She draped herself languorously along the front seat curled around my vang & sheeting arrangement then threw her not inconsiderable weight hastily my way as the boat began to lean & the outside water threatened to become inside water!
When you sail in enclosed waters like our small bay getting clean air is something of a novelty. What you tend to get is dead spots, sudden wind shifts, directional changes & nasty & unexpected gusts ~ all of which threaten to tip you into a cold & malevolent bay. Liddy was one worried bunny. I was worried too ~ though for slightly different reasons. I'm not as young as I used to be. I'm not as strong as I used to be. I'm not as fit as I used to be; I really dislike getting dunked ~ & I had a nervous passenger who was tending to hurl her weight about rather than gently shifting it so the poor dingy was lurching across the bay like a drunk! I then found as we went about Liddy was hauling on my mainsheet to help me out!!! Ouch. I had deliberately let it out so we could sort ourselves out! We only had a couple of feet in the cockpit & it was a tight fit, what with Liddy putting her head through the sheeting arrangement & me tangling my tiller extension between her & the boom, & there was Liddy on the wrong side of the boat tight hauling the mainsail while I was still trying to untangle my tiller! It made for excited sailing.
I don't know if my friend was worried or not but he launched his tinnie complete with Wife & baby & Star & followed us round! It was only gusting to 15 knots & that is something we should have been able to manage without too much trouble. On my own it would have been so much easier but our combined weight in this little boat was making her rather heavy in the water, heavy on the tiller & slow to respond. I'd love to take her out on my own in a steady breeze & see how she does. She will never fly like a moth. The old ones were chined & you only ever had an inch or so of hull in the water & they were devilishly fast; fast & delicate. Just like the Moth they were named for.
When the tide turned we headed back. Just beyond the mangroves the wind dies right out but there is a trick to coming in under those conditions if you know it & it's like riding a bike. Once you know how to sail you never forget. I was doing things automatically, never even thinking about them: watching my luff, watching my sail~tails, checking for the dark patches on the water which tell you your next gust is arriving, constantly shifting my weight to get the best out of the boat ~ adjusting, adjusting, adjusting. And I got a compliment. My friend is a braver man than I thought. He told me after that most people who say they can sail take his boats out & promptly capsize them, then need rescuing. We got in & out under our own steam ~ & we didn't capsize! The getting in again impressed him but I have always found sailing in light conditions hugely frustrating & best done as fast as possible ~ which we did. We've been asked back. I just might, you know! ☺