Strong wind keeps sailors on their toes
“FINN! Go for’ard and sort that jib wrap,” I shouted over the maelstrom.
At his age, even if I had understood the instruction, I would likely have folded my arms and sulked in the bottom of the boat.
The front deck of a Bahia, with its tangle of sheets, stays and halyards, is a difficult enough place to crawl to in the boat park, never mind when it’s rolling and pitching like a demented dolphin in a force six, with a flogging sail doing its very best to give you a welt across any exposed skin.
Undaunted, Finn crawled over Trev the circumnavigator (to be) and spent what felt like an eternity fighting to untangle the jib from the spinni’ halyard, while the elders concentrated on keeping the boat upright.
The ‘well done’ he got on returning now feels inadequate, reminiscent of a shepherd’s acknowledgement of his dog after a perfect gather.
We could have just beached it, but that wouldn’t have been half as much fun as going on to win the only race on Regatta day.
The forecast had been unrelenting fours to sevens all week and while the morning seemed quite benign at 10.30am, by first race time it had become ‘testing’ and racing was postponed for an early lunch with only Toby managing to get a sailboat on the water before midday.
A huddle of officers eventually agreed to stage races with 3-1 safety cover seeming reasonable for the conditions.
Fran and Richard L in a jibbed Pico, James A in another while Richard H and Dave dared the un-reefable Miracle and Ent’. Finn, Trev and me, taming the Bahia.
The Waggett boys decided against participating – disappointing for them, but the wiser option approaching the limits of sailability.
Without a watch on the boat we had a bad start but soon crawled through the field due to our superior wind to sail to weight ratio. Richard H retired – a new crew and overpowered rig not being a great combination in the conditions, while Fran and Richard L plunged through the waves behind us.
I am fairly sure I saw Fran swallow a fish – with that volume of water over the bow the odds were high.
After two trying laps we were hopeful of the horn, but not to be, and a further eight tacks and one near catastrophic gybe was required.
Meanwhile Dave and Paul decided to test the water.
Dave still resists the drysuit calling! 60hp and two instructors eventually recovered the boat, but by then we were agreeing the grey area of ‘sailable’ had been reached and called it a day.
Finn’s grin, even without a welt, was a picture.