I am a creature of habit and sadly my weeks follow a pre-planned timetable with my meal menus befitting the activities the family will be subjected to. Weekends have their own mini timetable which we all adhere to in some small way.
However this weekend the weather man said “tomorrow will be sunny and dry but with a gentle crosswind, a little choppy towards the coast”
“Shall we go sailing then?” suggested Sexy Sporty Dad with more enthusiasm than he has had since he left work for our holiday. This was not on the agenda! It was not even a couple of precious hours that could be squeezed into the rest of the day with an early start or late finish.
Sailing isn’t really my thing. I can be tempted on to the water; In fact I do love the sea, the rushing of the waves, watching surfers catch the waves then crash and splash as they lose out to the power of the water. I love watching the boats bobbing on the horizon and the sight of hundreds of sails all fighting the elements, is exhilarating.
I do not like the sand getting into all my little creases which there seem to be even more of this year, then finding its way into the box of food which I have desperately tried to keep closed, or the tiniest folded item of dry clothing. I hate seaweed clawing at your feet as you paddle, brushing past like an unknown predator then wrapping your legs, re-igniting fears of some horror film about the deep.
My kind of sailing does not involve hanging on for dear life; waiting for the boon to whip round and take you clean out of the boat landing heavily in too deep salty cold water. My kind of boat has an engine, it has soft leather seats to relax back into as the wind whips through your wayward hair. My boat has a large deck for me to catch the rays of the beating sun as I sip a large fruit filled chilled pimms. If I am totally honest my boat also has someone to sail and definitely someone to serve the pimms.
So dream on; I will have to keep buying my lottery ticket and hoping for that.
Good sailing days are so unpredictable and usually do not fall conveniently on a weekend.
It took a couple of hours to prepare the 420 which to our horror has not been out for 2 years, together with the little topper for the children to try to exert some power over the mighty sea. An impromptu picnic thrown together and we were on our way.
You know how you always say things like “oh next time you must come with us”; next time comes around too quickly and everyone is too busy. This time we stopped for a moment; Natty my neighbour has been sailing before and provides me with a wonderful excuse not to venture into the boat; we invited her along. She had her sister and family staying so they all came along. No 1 Son’s friend Stuart loves the water as do his family so we invited them and they came along.
We all met up at harbour side in Poole where the boats were then rigged and ready to launch. My role in this is to hold. I hold the ropes, I hold the boat, I hold the launch trolley. Then I hold my breath as I watch the waves batter the boats; sails bending tantalizingly close to the surface before being pulled back to the correct position.
I count them out and I count them back in again.
We were not the only ones to have listened to the forecast and decided days like this were not guaranteed. The sea was alive with sails, jetskis, motor launches and the odd ferry cutting through the crowds. Waves and over swell causing the boats to bob brazenly above the turbulent waters.
I tiptoed gingerly into the freezing water my shorts rolled as high as they could be without cutting my circulation. After the initial three or four minutes either my legs were so numb they lost sensation or the water was actually not as cold as expected, but I could no longer feel a thing. Venturing further and further into the water I clung to the edge of the bouncing boat as it tossed and turned tumultuously against my chilled hands. Wet suit clad bodies climbed in causing the boat to move further out to sea dragging me with it. My now soaked shorts clinging to clammy legs; I clasped the edge in a desperate bid to keep hold. Once everyone was seated my last task; a final push and the current carried the crew from my clutches.
Back on topper watch I stood on the beach watching as the children capsized their craft. The wait was interminable as the sail appeared momentarily before the next wave took it back into the water. Each near attempt to pull the craft upright thwarted, by an upsurge of water, followed by another drift towards the busy ferry route. My breathing now limited to the wispy views of the sail as I paced the beach contemplating how to rescue the child.
Swimming out to them was never an option; I am a hesitant swimmer these days and anything out of my depth is guaranteed to leave me slowly sinking southwards. Not that I would have the knowledge or strength to haul the hull back into sailing mode. Also having rescued the boat I would be stranded without even a life jacket, which all the sailors and visitors were enforced to wear, and unable to swim back to shore.
I tried yelling to Sexy Sporty Dad that the topper was in trouble but my voice despite the raised volume and desperation was carried far off to France on a furious gust. After several attempts to catch his attention; he did spot or rather couldn’t spot the boat so turned tac to make for the sail lying forlornly on the water surface.
With a final hold of breath and a lot of psychic willing from the remaining shore based party, the sail rose gloriously out of the water; fleetingly teetered on going over the opposite way, righted itself before a body bumbled into the boat. The topper sailed majestically through the sea towards the 420; not requiring any help at all.
The two boats then turned tail and chased each other up and down Poole harbour. There were lots of quick
changes as crew and sailors swapped life vests and in some cases wet suits. The day drew into evening, the wind dropped, clouds cleared and the sun began setting on a perfect sailing day.
Unable to say good bye and end the camaraderie and general enjoyment, everyone came home with us. The ginger and garlic remained in the fridge. Lids on the cumin, coriander and cardamom all stayed firmly shut Saturday night curry was relegated to another night as a takeaway was hungrily consumed by some very tired and hungry individuals.
On Sunday despite the thunderstorm crashing about our ears, the family were subjected to the planned BBQ even though it had to be cooked inside. One impromptu day in a weekend is more than enough disruption in my ordered life for the family to cope with!
Check out my cooking blog at Teatime Treats with Tiggy