Sailing Day 1

(I’ll have to upload photographs later, all I took with was the disposable cam pics and will get them developed over the weekend)

The boat that shall not be named (for reasons that will become clearer in future posts) is small. It’s 8 meters small and it is what sailors call “tender”. ie. It rolls side to side like a mofo at the slightest hint of a swell. But ours is not to ask why, ours is just to deliver the thing. The boat has 1 tiny cabin in the bow that was about half the size of the back of a bakkie with a canopy on. There are two other bunks. One bigger one that is essentially the “dining room table” (har har) and one tiny little wormhole bunk that you use when the sea is very rough. From the position outside where you sit and steer you can look through the hatch into the boat and see pretty much all there is to see. You’re in a small confined area.

It was only two of us sailing. Jeremy and myself. Jeremy is what I would consider a very experienced sailor. He lives on a yacht.

We start packing her and doing the safety checks. Inside she’s smaller than a caravan, a lot smaller. I can’t get my shoulders through the forepeak (the cabin in the very front) door… I have to push my body through side-on and when you’re all rigged up with harnesses and such you actually get stuck pretty easily.

One of her batteries is dead but the other seems fine.

We rig her, she rigs like a dinghy with winches. Once we’re all done we decide to rush out and try and catch the wind that we’ve been feeling grow behind us. We motor out, get the sails up and start sailing. Wednesday afternoon was a lovely day sail. The wind was pretty strong and we were going along at about 5 or 6 knots. That’s not blazingly fast but it’s as fast as this hull can go. Already my bum is starting to get a bit sore. The back of the boat is basically what you’d expect from a dinghy. Hard fibreglass seats that get wet pretty easily and various little bits and pieces that stick up into your back or ass. The actually positioning of the seating and the tiller made you wonder if the designer of this boat wasn’t perhaps some sick twisted sadomasochist. You just didn’t have enough leg room or your back was digging into a cable or your bum was digging into a latch. Not comfortable, even on day 1.

We sailed and sailed and at some point the sun started setting. We decided to start our shifts. By this stage the wind is a bit stronger and the swells are kicking the boat around like a tin can in the gutter. I go first (I think… it’s all a bit of a blur really).

I collapse, exhausted, onto the bunk and try to get comfortable. Again there are various things digging into me and on top of it all the boat is rocking so much that I have to physically hold myself in the bunk to stop from falling out. Needless to say, I spent three hours stressing about trying to sleep and not sleeping. Out of the darkness Jeremy calls my name. It’s my shift… I haven’t slept at all. Exhausted I climb up onto the deck and take over while Jeremy sleeps. The minutes tick over painfully slowly as my eyes drop and I struggle to stay awake. Luckily, unlike driving a car, the waves that smack you act as a great wake up call. You drift in and out of exhausted sleepiness watching the stars and listening to the sloosh sloosh sloosh noises as that boat runs through the water. The arm movement you have to make on the tiller in order to counteract the swell becomes automated. Bioluminessence (Glowing algae?) lights up the breaking waves and leaves a gorgeous path behind the yacht where the keel cuts its line through the water. This is not something that you can photograph. You have to see it. Occasionally we would sail through huge pools of bioluminssence that lit up the boat as if a yellow green sun was rising over the horizon. It was beautiful. My shift was up. Jeremy came back up to sail for the next 3 hours and I again tried in vain to sleep. I didn’t. Before I knew it Jeremy was calling me again. My 3 hours below had gone painfully by and now it was my turn to sail again. Jeremy was also struggling to sleep.

The swell was probably between 4 and 5 meters and the boat would sail up the one side and surf down the other… but each time you crossed the two valleys of the swell the boat would rock violently, emptying the sails and force you to strain on the tiller to keep her upright and pointing in the right direction.

I weariy sailed us to the early hours of the morning but never got the benefit of seeing sunrise… My shift was over, I was shattered and I crashed below. I’m not sure if I slept but when I finally got up the sun was rising on the horizon.

We were beating a line towards Cape Agulus… the wind seemed to be dropping.

— End of Day 1.

In the next instalment: “Jeremy is a far better sailor than chef. I was okay with that.

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2 thoughts on “Sailing Day 1

  1. I know that seemed as if it was a rhetorical question, but it actually wasn’t. I’m also very excited to learn when we will get to a spontaneous vomiting episode (you can’t have an epic sailing adventure without one), or is it some sort of climactic moment at the end of part four that would be spoiled by premature mentions? Are you really going to make me wait?

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