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Learning to Sail

22 Sep

Ahoy!  It’s me, Jess. This past week I’ve been taking a Sailing Training Course…

“Oh isn’t sailing romantic?!” My Instructor sighs as we bob through the Lake Ontario waves. He and my two fellow students are absolutely enchanted. I smile through pursed lips as he looks my way. ‘Dude, its freezing, windy AND raining. Not to mention we are going a whole four knots. Are we even moving?! I could SWIM faster than this. And that’s not saying a lot- I can hardly doggie paddle in a swimming pool without inadvertently panicking and gulping water…’  I can’t complain. I told my boss that if I was to be any use to the company, surely I would need to know how to sail. He agreed to pay for my course if I sold other training registrations to fill up the class. Done.

I showed up for the first evening class pretty confident I’d be making an appearance at the next Pan-American Games sailboat race. I had all my super high-tech gear I borrowed from the office, I had a pretty good understanding of boats, their parts, sails and had been on this particular boat numerous times. I even have a key for the damn thing on my car key chain. Anyways, we all meet below deck and sit around the table in the galley (That’s the boat word for ‘kitchen’) and we started into the course material.

1. Parts of Boat (Oh, I totally got this)

2. Gear and Equipment (Pshh easy)

3. Safety (Where’s the test? Just let me write this thing now, save me some time.)

4. Weather (Nothing I can’t catch up on with a couple documentaries…right?)

5. Rules of the Road/ Right of way (Wait, What road?)

6 Seamanship/Sail Reductions (I can figure that out I’m sure…)

7. Navigation (Hmm…I got lost on my way to the marina)

8. Tide Tables/Current Tables (Current!? Can’t we just turn on the engine?! Are there tides in a Lake?)

9. Handling Under Sail (Who’s ‘Gybe Ho’? and ‘Helms Alee’? Why are we yelling at them!?)

… that was my first indication that the Pan Am’s were a bit out of my reach…

The course material was pretty challenging. Every angle of the sail, every wind direction, every movement has a command and a name and a meaning. What added insult to injury was that during this whole ordeal I was aware that not only was I there to learn, I was also there to try and sell a boat to my fellow students. I had to act like I was having the time of my life. Bah. They were all doing well and answering questions and studying like good little students while I secretly rolled my eyes and continuously put on more layers of clothing.

After answering 5 textbook questions wrong in a row, I decided I didn’t like sailing. Or boats. Despite the resolution NOT to become a sailor, it turns out that I’m actually quite good at the helm. And… after a while I started having fun on the water. Maybe this isn’t so bad after all…

Tomorrow is my big test. If I pass I get a sticker! In the mean time I’ll practise yelling “Heading up! Harden the Sheets!” and working on my Round Turn and Two Half Hitches Knot.

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