Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Withdrawals...

The salt has washed out of my hair, my bruises have finally faded and my broken nails are growing back. I feel like a caged a bird who's wings have been clipped. It's been 3 weeks since I have been sailing and I am not coping well with being land bound. I feel anxious and fidgety. And when I am like this I am liable to do something completely ridiculous like try jury-rig a dinghy or something. Or 'borrow' a boat. Or try paddle to Rangitoto on a surfboard.

Don't ever go sailing. It will wreck you. Those 126.5 hours I logged over summer have wrecked me. Those years cruising the Gulf with my family have wrecked me. They have destroyed any hope of a 'normal' life. I have seen paradise. I have seen perfection. I have experienced 'the stoke' and now I crave it...need it. It's not that I distaste life on land, but life at sea is better. The gentle rocking of the boat at anchor in a beautiful bay somewhere, the hull crackling in the silence, the stars twinkling above. Or the boat crashing over huge swells, the rigging groaning from the strain, spray flying over the bow; at the mercy of wild and untamed seas.

A sailor without a boat just isn't right. It's defies the natural order of things. What am I to do??

Thursday, May 6, 2010

2009/2010 SUMMER RECAP

18 races. 4 cruises. 126.5 hours logged. 8 different boats. 2 overnight races. And one amazing summer of sailing. The increase in my skills, experience and passion is exponential. I saw collisions, broaches, sunsets, rainbows, dolphins, orcas and the unparalleled beauty of the Hauraki Gulf. I sailed in sunshine, I sailed in rain, I sailed in no wind and I sailed in strong winds. I learnt more in this one summer of sailing than I did in my entire childhood spent on boats. And as my skills and experience grew, so did my dreams.

Monday, May 3, 2010


Rocking gently
In days last light
The stars emerge faintly
For the impending night
Rippled clouds
Doused in fiery hues
On the water reflected
A poets muse
A golden moon suspended
In a darkening sky
Ascending languidly
Rising high
The hull crackles
Water lapping the sides
In the ebbing and flowing
Of constant tides
Sleep encroaches
As night wears on
The sea singing to me
Its sweet sweet song


New series. New boat. New crew. Saturday 1st May: I raced on an Elliott 1050 called Second Nature. She's a beaut of a boat, with a modified rig and set up for racing. The weather was all over the place - averaging about 20 knots but had some gusts up in the 30's. It was a Squadron Race, division B. A spinnaker division. I've done a grand total of 3 spinnaker races in my life, so I'm very much a rookie. Skipper put me on keyboards. Keyboards are the clutches on the cabin top that lock the ropes in so they don't run, or release them when you want them to run. My job was to stand in the cockpit and pull up sails, drop sails, and adjust the sails using the outhaul, vang and cunningham - all done via the keyboards and cabin top winches. And when I wasn't doing that, I was sitting 'on the rail', basically sitting on the very side of the boat with my legs hanging over while the boat leans precariously and roars towards the next mark. Exciting stuff. Especially when we tack. Tacking is when the boat changes direction and all the sails go from one side of the boat to the other. When we are sitting on the rail we sit on the opposite side to what the sails are on (we are on the high side of the lean), so when the sails change we have to scramble under to boom and over to the new high side (or windward side). We got hit with a patch of torrential rain and strong winds, which resulted in a very cold wet crew, a slippery deck, one crash tack and a near collision. No worries. The resulting perfect rainbow was worth every hair raising second of it. And watching Dirty Deeds, a racing catamaran, nearly go ass over turkey was entertaining to say the least. However, we emerged unscathed, with the exception of my knees which are now a delicate shade of purple due to my escapades crawling under the boom. Despite a couple of boats broaching (getting pulled on its side by the spinnaker), and one boat sticking its prod in the backside of another one, ripping a hole in it, it was a pretty good race with only minor mishaps. I have however, come to the conclusion that the winter racing is going to push my body, my skills and my faith in my skipper to the absolute limits. This is not like summer racing. You get cold, wet, tired, sore, bruised, battered and guess what ... I absolutely love it! Its a crazy crazy sport that we love, and we must be stark raving mad. The sea doesn't discriminate, it doesn't care if you are rich, poor, young, old, good or bad can be gentle and beautiful or angry and merciless. And a sailor must respect it. And this sailor is looking forward to a lot more adventures over the winter!!

Pic 1: An example of a yacht broaching due to losing control of the spinnaker (the big colorful sail). Note: this image was googled and is not from my race.
Pic 2: An example of 'sitting on the rail'. The crew sit on the rail to keep the weight up when the boat is leaning. When we tack the sails and crew swap sides. Note: this image was googled and is not from my race.