Sailing off to see the sea

Let me get something out of the way right now. I am not a sports
person. Not a participant. Not a spectator. In school my main goal
in “P.E.” was inventing creative excuses why I couldn’t
participate. Sure, all the girls went with the lame old “time of
the month” pretext – even the pregnant ones and yes, we had a
couple. But my opinion of sports then and now is, why do something
insane and perilous on purpose?
Let me get something out of the way right now. I am not a sports person. Not a participant. Not a spectator. In school my main goal in “P.E.” was inventing creative excuses why I couldn’t participate. Sure, all the girls went with the lame old “time of the month” pretext – even the pregnant ones and yes, we had a couple. But my opinion of sports then and now is, why do something insane and perilous on purpose?

Later, when I thought all threat of sports was behind me (i.e. high school graduation), I met my husband. Well, whoever arranged that slice of cosmic comedy must have enjoyed a big laugh. Because here was a guy who loved sports. Any sport. And in the beginning, I did my best to play along.

The fact that the relationship didn’t end when I took up skiing is a testament to my stubborn Irish nature. Or his obstinate Swedish one. Yes, we fought all the way down the slopes: (Me: “SLOW DOWN!” Him: “You need to PUSH yourself!” Me: “If I’m going to push anybody it’s going to be YOU off this mountain!”)

Or tennis. Yes, that went well. (Him: “Keep your EYE on the BALL!” Me, panting: “Shut-up!!!!”) Post-retirement, when he took up golf again, he knew better than to approach me about tagging along.

So recently when our friends invited us to spend a day sailing with them in their recently acquired boat, I gulped because sailing is … well, a sport. Right? Possibly even an EXTREME sport in my book, my book having precious little sports history written in it. Would I be eaten by sharks? Could I remain inside the boat? Were there seatbelts?

Yes, now that I’ve hit a “certain age” my focus is on the side of avoiding death. I hold the handrail going down steps. I try to remain upright in parking lots. I consume lots of fiber. But there I was, about to deliberately throw myself into possible imminent destruction.

“Did Orv and Carol take sailing lessons when they got the boat?” I queried my husband. If not, here was a sure way out. I mean, why would I, a responsible grandparent, board a vessel with untrained hands on deck?

“Oh, they didn’t need to,” he replied. “They used to race sailboats.”

Oh. Well. This meant they were certainly capable. But might it also mean they were a little wild and crazy out on the waves? Knowing our friends for something approaching three decades, however, I figured that wouldn’t be the case.

So we arrived at the marina at the appointed time one clear, bright morning where we were introduced to a 36-foot beauty of a French sailboat, named “Notre Temps” – an appropriate moniker for a couple enjoying retirement as well as two new grandchildren.

We toured the cabin where everything was so cute and compact I immediately felt the urge to start nesting. There were ample, if cozy, sleeping quarters. Carol and Orv bunked in the bow on a neat triangular-shaped bed (or are they “racks” in maritime terms?) where Carol slept on the inside, nearest the hull. Laughing, she explained that if Nature called in the middle of the night she pretty much scrambled over Orville to get out.

We had a lesson in use of the “facilities” should the need arise as well as a reassuring tutorial in boat and water safety. “We like to bring back the same number of people we left with,” Orv informed us, which was okey-dokey with me.

The weather was picture-perfect, one of those sunny, shirtsleeve weather days common here in the fall. Orv was an accomplished captain and Carol (“the admiral” as Orv dubbed her) amazed me as she sprang nimbly onto the deck, handling ropes and sails like a young lass. Having a couple of years on me, I was beyond impressed at her agility.

As for me, I avoided becoming shark bait. Joyfully I practiced my own favorite “sport” from the safety of the cockpit – snapping photos of dolphins and never-ending magnificent vistas as “Notre Temps” skimmed elegantly over the waters of San Francisco Bay.

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