Monday 12 January 2015

Withdrawal Symptoms: Sailing Into The New Year


This last Christmas season saw me doing nothing. Yes, nothing. Perhaps it is the Cape Town spirit getting to me at last.

This doing nothing included final convalescence from my torn biceps muscle, with a shakedown cruise across False Bay to Simon's Town. A wonderful trip indeed. The do nothing bucket list also included lots of beer. It is high summer here after all.

There is something to say for doing nothing along with your nearest and dearest.

However, the laziness eventually gets you. One can only read so many books and do thus many crossword puzzles before the withdrawal symptoms catch up. I had to take a deep breath and count to ten many times to just calm down.

How wonderful it was when the sailing school contacted me to book my time for instruction in the new year! Sailing again. Out of a wonderful place too.

The Cape Town waterfront marina has something special to it. There is a serene quietness in there at both ends of the day. Being at the back of the main harbour activities, the noise from industrial vehicles and -activities and so on does not reach the marina. Couple this with Table Mountain and Signal Hill standing guard over us and you get the idea of a peaceful, almost Zen-like mood.

Clifton beach  with Table Mountain standing guard
Of course, the sailing is exquisite, as always. I had a group of students on competent crew course, which always has some adventure looming. This time was no exception.

The competent crew course is very interesting to taxing, as the students literally have not ever been on board a boat. It is up to the instructor to get these young people to a level where one can begin to enjoy the sailing, as opposed to having the fear of God put into them due to their lack of knowledge and experience.

We got past this hurdle quite fast and was able to have a sail in decent wind of twenty seven knots, gusting thirty on the second day of the course. Everybody had a whale of a time after the first ten scary minutes of worrying that the boat will capsize. Then the real fun started.

The jib furler came adrift and I had to send someone forward to go and clear and stow the sail.
This was done with some splashing as expected. We carried on sailing, doing some point of sail manoeuvres, then motored back to our mooring.

Dinner. Chile con carne a la The Hungry Sailor
There I sent one of the students up the mast  to retrieve the furler. All on the second day of their course. Talk about adventure!

The next day we sailed to Clifton, one of the most picturesque beaches in the world. We were blessed with a balmy day too. The whole world and their friend also had the same idea, so it was quite festive with all the boats at anchor off the packed beaches. The students took a quick dip in the cold Atlantic water before making a scrumptious picnic lunch. Much fun was had by all, until we hoisted the anchor.

Or at least, we tried to. The anchor was stuck fast and I had to make a fast plan before everyone else departed the anchorage. Our neighbour helped with pulling a spare mooring line doubled around the anchor chain in the opposite direction. Soon the recalcitrant stuck anchor was tripped and we could sail home.

By Friday afternoon these students had broad smiley faces and little skin left on their palms. The vagaries of an introduction to yachting.

These adventures really set me thinking about what I do. I am the instructor and normally are quite tired by the end of the course, both physically and mentally. Yet I cannot remember when last it was that I enjoyed a week on the water so much. Not even mentioning the fact that, really, a bad day on the water beats any desk job ever.

I got home and sat in wonder for a while, counting blessings. Perhaps one gets a bit blasé about the sailing and then needs a break from sailing altogether. Just to clear the mind.

But your soul tells you it is time to get back on the water. And Kenneth Graham's story “The Wind in the Willows” comes to mind. I quote from Wikipedia.

In the story, Mole and Rat are rowing up the canal in Rat's boat. They are discussing nautical things and life in general when Rat is heard to utter:

“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing — absolutely nothing — half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing... about in boats — or with boats. In or out of 'em, it doesn't matter. Nothing seems really to matter, that's the charm of it. Whether you get away, or whether you don't; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you're always busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you've done it there's always something else to do, and you can do it if you like, but you'd much better not.”

Authored by Johan Zietsman

Last updated on 2015-01-12

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