We've been away to Turkey to do some sailing for a couple of weeks. All our other sailing holidays have been on 'big boats' i.e. thirty footers and over and we sleep on board. This year we went to a 'club' where we stayed in a hotel and could take out dinghies, canoes, fun-boats, wind surfers or a big boat for the day.
Although I have been sailing since a little nipper, with Maalie and my father, I have actually never learned how to sail. I have always been crew, you know, pulling on ropes, running around the deck, pulling up sails, pulling down sails, messing with the anchor etc. and ALWAYS with someone shouting instructions to me. It was time to branch out and learn the proper stuff of wind directions, jibing, tacking and steering and overcoming an irrational fear of capsizing.
I started out on Funboats, which I renamed Toyboys and Peter renamed Sea Slugs.
These were jolly little baby catamarans that actually went like the wind in the right conditions but were dreadful at going about or tacking into the wind. But .... it was virtually impossible to capsize them. Right up my street.
From this I graduated to Topazes.
These were more of a challenge. The first time I took one out I capsized twice. I found with these boats that when you turn them over, the rudder comes free from it's holding, so you have to bob about and try and fix this before there is the undignified scramble to get back in.
Now many of you will know that the upper body anatomy of a lady is a bit different to that of a gentleman, and together with the fact that wearing life jackets was compulsory, I found it very difficult to get back in as there seemed to be too much getting in the way. The only thing to do was to squirm and wriggle and eel over the back, hoiking up protruberences until the centre board was within reach, and thence a hefty pull usually landed me floundering on the bottom of the boat. Then it's quick, grab the main sheet, the tiller and off you go again.
Actually I got quite good a righting a capsized boat. The theory is you stand on the centre board and your weight gradually brings the boat up horizontal again. You have to remember to jump clear as the boat comes up otherwise you get squashed underneath it. The sophisticated men used to be able to climb in from the position on the centre board. They were very slick at it, but I never managed to master the technique.
After two days of this, capsizing four times and covered with bruises, I progressed to the Laser Pico.
I really loved the Picos. For one thing the tiller was slightly shorter than that of the Topaz so I found it easier to turn about. With the ultra long tiller of the Topaz there was a lot of groping and grasping behind my back trying to move from one side of the boat to the other. Also the Picos were faster and generally more fun.
My condifence grew with each capsize and at times I actually tried to see how far I could heel over before splat and I was in again.
A few times Peter and I took out a Hobie Cat. These have a fearsome reputation as they are incredibly fast catamarans. It's not easy to right these if you manage to turn them over. However, as Peter was doing the sailing and I was doing the crewing we managed really well without falling in.
Even so, Peter managed to get to get it up on one hull! My shrieks of joy and
screams of terror could be heard all the way to Bodrum.
Peter is a sod when it comes to racing. Normally a mild mannered, aimable fellow, when he races he turns into a demon. He takes no prisoners, and aims for the first buoy and bugger anyone in the way, be they wind surfers, swimmers or a family outing in a canoe. Everyone scatters. At the start of the race there are a lot of nudgers and nudgees all wanting to be near the start line for the off. There is also a lot of shouting obsenities at each other and general bad temper. I learned a new swear word too. Someone shouted ***********!!!!! What's *********** mean? Peter told me. 'But that's illegal' I replied shocked. I stored the word away for future use on wordimperfect's blog.
Peter locking horns at the start of the big boats race. I should have known of course, as even in any running race he starts off with arms flaying about and elbowing anyone in the way until he forms a little vacuum around himself in which even angels fear to tread.
One day he took me out in an RS800. Now this really was a boat too far. I was poured into a harness contraption with a big hook on the front that was supposed to attach itself to a wire trapeze. We left the beach at 0 to 60 in four seconds and this time my screams were genuine. I couldn't get the trapeze to work so I hung gamely out over the side, but it was all too much. We snuck back to the shore and I rushed for a Pico to restore my confidence again.
This is how an RS800 should be sailed. Not a chance. Don't even go there.
Every evening between 6.00 and 7.00 there was happy hour. We had made some friends: two Johns, a Theresa, a Tricia, a Brenda and a Gerry. The tables were covered with gins, beers and wine. One of my happiest memories was of a line of gins waiting to be drunk. Unfortunately I couldn't focus on my camera by that time to take a photo.
Of course there were the cats. They were all wild and most of them very timid and shy. They would grab my offerings and scarper. I gave one a cream cake when no-one was watching. She licked the cream off and left the rest. There was one little kit that was only about six weeks old and he and I became firm friends. Even Peter liked him.
This was one of the best holidays I have ever had. I loved it. I've learned to sail albeit not as competitively as Peter (yet). I capsized nine times and I have impressive bruises. I got two cold sores as I forgot my medicine. We've made friends that we will keep in touch with and hopefully meet up with again. The weather was brilliant. The food was good and the gins delicious. I'm now detoxing (or punishing myself as Peter says).
I'm off to the deli now to see Father Ann to confess my sins and to tell Berkant all about his fellow Turks.