Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Burying the Windows

Sailing.  There's nothing like it.

It's a very unique form of transportation, especially these days where gas prices are skyrocketing, and taking out the motor cruiser for a day trip will guilt you into having to catch dinner.

With sailboats, no gas is required.  Fishing is optional.

During my teens I would go sailing in Toronto Harbour with a bunch of people on a friend's boat.  In fact, my friend recruited us as his crew for some of the Monday races held by the yacht club to which he belonged.  We won a few and lost a few races but held our own as the youngest - and most winningnest - crew of the time amongst the snobbery of the older yacht club members.

I learned quite a bit about sailing in those days.  For those of you not so educated in sailing jargon, "coming about" means a leasurley turn with the wind.  "Tacking" means, "duck quickly and hold onto something before you're thrown out of the boat" while turning against or into the wind.  "Doh!" is not a deer, a female dear, but the name of the person, or the exclamation of the person that ends up with a skull fracture for not ducking when tacking.  The term, "boom" is the part of the sailboat and/or the sound heard just immediately after tacking and just before one hears, "Doh!"

If you hear, "boom-boom", well that's just Ms. Catlady Larew returning from her sabbatical, donned in her high school cheerleader outfit. (Besides losing an internal organ, Boom Boom lost a bit of weight!)

But I digress.

A few years later, a friend of my parents (who I kind of adopted as my "Big Bother" as it were) bought a sailboat.  It wasn't as big as my friend's boat but it was fair sized.  It was rigged for a single sailor, but he didin't know that much about sailing.  He did, in fact, buy a book about sailing - I'll give him kudos for that one - and studied it for awhile before getting under way.  Knowing that I had sailed before and having a couple of cruises under his belt, he invited me along one day.

It was a bit windy.

A little cloudy.

No worries, he said, as we motored out into the lake.

Hoisted the sails, we did.

Come about, we did.

We were set to cruise a bit of the way into the horizon and 'follow all of the other boats' into the direction to which they headed when, all of a sudden, we hear a gunshot!

Then a blowhorn with a voice, we heard.  Much like Charlie Brown's classroom, it was.  Couldn't understand a word, we did.

Me and my friend (I'll call him "Jim") were staring at each other perplexed as to the meaning of the words coming out of the blowhorn which, by the mere shrillness with which they were delivered, we were supposed to have automatically understood.


Following the traversing sails along the horizon - and the tell tale signs of 'racing' buoys  -  I suddenly had an epiphany.

Oh, shit!  I said.

What shit? said Jim.

We're crashing a regatta, I informed him.

What's a regatta?

It's a boat race.

Why are they shooting at us? said Jim.

They aren't.  Someone just crossed the finish line - I hope.

Why are they yelling at us?

Because we're about to transect the race course.

Oh, shit!  Said Jim. Now what?

You're at the helm!

Go get the book!  It's down below, he said.

(At this point I'm thinking that Jim wanted to look up the protocol as to how to crash a regatta:  did it involve a boat or a bottle of champagne?)

As I was heading into the cabin, I suggested that he turn the boat on another course, preferably away from the other boats.

Remember when I said that there were two ways to turn a boat?

Rather than coming about, Jim tacked (he zagged instead of zigged).  It was sudden.  It was fierce.  He neglected to loose the mainsheet (the rope which allows the boom to swing freely) which would have, for all intents and purposes, stopped us dead in the water.

Most pleasure craft boats have 'portholes' or windows alongside their hulls and usually found near the gunnels of the boat (the "gunnels" being the topmost part of the hull).  Think of a canoe.  Got it?


As I was being slammed against the side of the hull inside of the cabin, I realized there was no "book".  I think Jim was playing me for a fool.  I turned my head toward the portholes to see what was happening outside and noticed that the boat had heeled to a 45 degree angle.  Jim had, effectively, "buried the windows".

I think I saw a school of perch swim by.

Hey, Jim!  Got any fishing rods?

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This is part of the "30 Days of Verbosity Writing Challenge", hosted by Nicky and Mike at We Work For Cheese, and yes I know I'm a day late with today's - or yesterday's - theme, but there are no rules!  Yay! Please click on the WWFC link for more entries and - hey - enter yourself!  It's fun!  

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