Blanketing opinions that I'll probably regret soon.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Sailing with a Female Turns Me Into a Lubberly Blunderer

(a post by Matlow Toldmie)

I wanted to show my wife the thrill of hiking out inches above the water on my Sunfish, Pinkie, so despite a storied history of sailors' advice against it, I organized an outing with a female.

Before we even hit the water on my neighborhood lake, the problems began to mount --- stuff that never happens when I'm alone or with a male First Mate.

To start, I somehow hoisted the sail upside down and backwards. First impressions were shot. After I fixed that, the day's mounting list of embarrassments were worthy of being written about in Sailing for Dummies.

The light wind that day was fickler than the finger of fate, and kept backing the sail a full 180 degrees. This caused the boom to repeatedly rake over my wife's head, and once we were moving, it would swing around again, stopping us for more punishment. My poor wife politely kept smiling as her head popped up and down like a whack-a-mole.

Then my daggerboard nailed a god damn submerged dead tree. We were coasting along --- me explaining the beautiful art of sailing to my interested wife --- when a loud BANG accompanied a sudden halt. Even when moving two miles per hour, hitting an invisible object scares the shit out of you and knocks you hard forward. My wife yelled her first, "What the hell was that!?!?". I have sailed that spot often and have never hit that mysterious tree, and haven't seen it since. Who knows if it was really a tree!

Shortly thereafter, my daggerboard snagged a trolling fisherman's line. Luckily, I managed to change course and bring Pinkie alongside, taking the tension off his line, which was snagged on my daggerboard. He probably wasn't sure what had happened because he was one of the typical slack-jawed fisherhicks who often haunt the lake. This is not a description born from spite: his mouth really was hanging open as if silently singing a very deep note, and he was obviously feeble-minded for not moving a muscle during the situation save his foot on the electric motor. I said something like, "Sorry, didn't see your line", but he just gave me an eerie vacant stare while drifting away like something out of Deliverance.

You're going to think I'm kidding, but then my rudder broke! The fishing line manoeuver put force on the rudder bracket and popped a screw out of its water-rotted hull, killing the boat's steerage. This caused my wife to yell for the second time, "What the hell was that!?!?!" Thankfully, we were downwind of our launch site, so knowing the rest of the day was shot, I grudgingly pointed Pinkie in the right direction and let the wind push us home.

On the way back, I nearly capsized an Asian family in an inflatable kayak. Rudderless and with hardly a breeze, I was on a collision course with them. It was a bright yellow kayak with the dad holding a canoe paddle in the middle. Seated in front and behind him were no fewer than FIVE small Asian children of various sizes, none with life vests. My attempts to communicate with him that I couldn't turn were thwarted by my lack of Mandarin. Using every tool available to turn, including one hand, both feet, various appendages belonging to my wife, and the actual daggerboard --- which I had pulled out to use as a paddle --- we missed them by inches.

In avoiding that situation, I turned Pinkie towards land. But just as I did, a puff of wind gave us a kick and the landing spot nature chose for us was a massive overhanging briar patch. The day's conclusion was a wrestling match between my wife, me, the boat's rigging, and a thorny tangle of branches and flapping sails --- played out in front of the entire park's picnic area as an audience.

I'm usually not a superstitious person, but this list of mishaps accompanied the single time I took my woman sailing. As opposed to many other sports, sailing always puts you in your place, beating down rising egos. But this day was ridiculous. Honestly, I'm a decent sailor; maybe there is something to be said for old sailing superstitions ...
More fodder for the theory that a bad day sailing is a good day blogging.

I just watched Pirates of the Caribbean I again last night and was struck by the scene where Captain Jack Sparrow is being told that it's bad luck to bring a woman on board...he agrees and says it's worse not to have her. He's holding a frickin' banana! He not only brings a woman aboard but a banana too! No wonder he kept losing his ship.
You might have hit a snapping turtle...we used to hit with our daggerboards occasionally when I was sailing Sunfish in NJ.
You're lucky that Chinatown Bumboat didn't scuttle your ship.
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