Sailing

So what happened to Friday?

Blogging Monday to Friday @ the dam: Friday (and Saturday)

I don’t really know what happened to Friday, to be honest with you! The day just flew by so fast, I forgot to keep track of it.

We probably had a fairly normal day, sailing, trapezing and having fun.

In the evening, we had a braai with a friend who was also at the dam. We watched the fireworks exploding on the other side of the dam. Our dogs were severely anxious, my mom even had to comfort one of them on her lap! All around the sailing club, different parties were playing different music, each one trying to outdo the next in volume. We christened it “The Battle of the Blares!”

As we finished supper, an enormous rainstorm blew up. The wind was cold and gusty, forcing us to huddle round our fire with a cup of tea. Soon it was bucketing with rain, so we went to bed. While we were peacefully sleeping, 2010 slipped into 2011…

Bonus day! Saturday!

I originally intended to only blog up till Friday, however, Saturday turned out to be the most exciting of the lot!

There is this guy at the club (Note: no names to preserve anonymity) who owns a Hobie Wild Cat. Wow! WHAT. A. BOAT! I had been admiring this boat (and secretly casting envious glances in the general direction of this boat) for the past couple of days.

Well, on Saturday, I was offered a ride on the boat!

Of course, I immediately said yes! In fact, it took a large amount of self-control to stop myself from jumping up and down while yelling with glee!

By the time we had rigged the boat, though, I was feeling pretty nervous.

This boat is way out of the league of anything I’ve ever sailed on before. (Except for the FX One owned by the exact same guy who owns the Wild Cat. But when I went on that boat, we pitchpoled. And it was sort of my fault. So that wasn’t a particularly encouraging thought…)

So the guy who owns the Wild Cat… Lets just call him Mr WildCat for short; I can’t keep referring to him as ‘ The Guy Who Owns the Wild Cat.” That’s just too long. Also too much work to type.

Anyway, Mr WildCat explained to me how the spinnaker works and that it would be my job to pull it out and in. There were three separate ropes that I had to pull on to hoist the spinnaker. No jokes. Also two other ropes to pull the spinnaker down again.

Then, once the spinnaker was up, I was supposed to get out onto trapeze and hook my foot into this strap right at the back of the boat. After that, I was somehow supposed to lean down and grasp this other little hook which then (once hooked onto my trapeze handle) would stop me from flying to the front of the boat when our bows dug into the water. Note: I said when, not if our bows dug into the water. Can you blame me for feeling pretty nervous by this time?

Furthermore, Mr WildCat looked at me and asked if I have any sailing booties. Somehow I got the idea that it was more to protect my toes from being crushed than for any other reason. He also offered to lend me a splash jacket. Apparently I was about to get wet…

Meanwhile, a bunch of other sailors were hanging around and making jokes and comments that didn’t make me feel any more confident about what I was about to undertake. One guy even shook my hand with mock solemnity, telling me that it had been good to know me, but that this was goodbye. I felt like one of those gladiators: “We who are about to die salute you!”

We kitted up for the adventure. I already had my costume on underneath my clothes. I added the splash jacket on top and tucked my hair into the collar. Then I put the borrowed trapeze harness on top of the splash jacket. Lastly, I zipped up my life jacket. There were still booties, gloves and sunglasses to add as well, though. Finally we were ready to launch!

Once out on the water, my nervousness disappeared. We were heading upwind and I swung out onto trapeze. Soon, we were lifting a hull. I don’t have words to do justice to the experience! It was fantastic!

We were across the dam in no time at all! Soon, we had turned and were heading downwind. We had a couple of issues with the spinnaker and the wind, but once these had been sorted out, we were able to start flying. I was pulling on the spinnaker rope with all my strength. Mr WildCat kept telling me to pull in even more, but it felt as if I was pulling against a concrete wall! I mentally registered a New Year’s resolution to grow more arm muscles.

With the enormous blue spinnaker pulling, we were soon flying the hull higher than I’d ever flown before. As we powered across the dam, we met three Halcats. They all seemed to be converging on us at once. I was worried that we would run over one of them, but Mr WildCat somehow avoided all three of them! I thought to myself that his little chuckle was starting to sound a bit evil.

I was starting to get a bit nervous. I asked Mr WildCat if it was normal to fly the hull quite this high… He returned a cool and reassuring answer.

The next moment, a gust hit and we were going over!

Mr WildCat dumped the mainsheet. I dumped the spinnaker.

It was too late.

Mr WildCat fell off the boat. I fell off the boat. The boat fell over.

Luckily neither of us fell into the fancy sails. In my attempt to fight against the pull of gravity I fell on the boom, though. My knee was scraped. The boom came off even worse…

I apologised profusely to Mr WildCat all the way back to shore.

When we got close to the foreshore, it was my job to pull out the daggerboards. I had had more than enough trouble getting them in, in the first place. Getting them out was ten times worse. I yanked and pulled and wiggled and pulled trying to get them out, but the things simply wouldn’t move! Eventually I had both of them out. (Later, Mr WildCat explained to me why I had struggled so much with those daggerboards. The daggerboards are 1.7m long. I am 1.75m long and have no arm muscles. Big problem.)

The drama wasn’t over yet, though. We had the daggerboards out, but now we were heading for a submerged fence. Without the daggerboards we were going to struggle to tack. Mr WildCat jumped over boards and started to frantically swim the boat around. I stayed on the boat and attempted to lift the rudders clear of all the water weed. My attempt was an epic fail and I ended up feeling singularly useless. The rudder system on the WildCat is totally different to anything I have ever seen before!

Eventually we made it to shore, everyone still in one piece, although the Wild Cat’s boom was a bit bent! Once on shore, Mr WildCat and his other guy who owns a Hobie Tiger swapped the bent WildCat boom for the Tiger boom. Voila! The WildCat was ready to sail once again!

It’s a pity Christmas has just passed, otherwise I’d ask Santa for a Wild Cat…

Photo credit: http://www.hobiecat.com/sailboats/wild-cat/photos/

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