Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I'm a Sailor! Well, Semi-Sailor....

Definitely an epic and gorgeous night on the lake!

My sailing days are just beginning and oh, how glad I am that I did this. I've been a bit hesitant and nervous getting out there. I'm not sure what I'm afraid of, but there has been a certain amount of fear of messing up, I guess. After getting out on the water on my 2nd tech sailing class I felt good to finally be in a boat, but a little overwhelmed at all I have to remember. Don't you wish you could just blink your eyes and immediately know how to do something? This summer I'm definitely practicing the fine art of patience with myself - that's for sure.

Tonight was my 3rd tech class with the Hoofers sailing - the one where if you pass you get your rating and are able to go on your own time and get lots of sailing practice in. You aren't officially rated on a tech boat. That happens when you eventually take a test to officially achieve your tech rating, and that rating allows you to go onto learn other boats.

It took me about 3 weeks to be able to finally find a class with openings that could fit into my schedule. In this break I felt like I've forgotten so much (and I have!) The parts of the boat are still coming slowly. I definitely know what is port and starboard, but things like the names of all the sheets (in sailing that's what you call the 'ropes') or the official names of the part of the sail (there are at least 6!!!) are not quite second nature - yet!

The evening started rough. I forgot how to do a few of the knots, but once shown again it definitely started to come back. Heading out on the water was slow and I was pretty guarded... but once out there my instructor yelled, "Jane, do you want to capsize?" Do I WANT to capsize? Heck no! but I wearily responded, "ok..."

Here goes nothing - I proceeded to lean on the edge of the boat, something I have definitely avoided doing since being in any boat in my lifetime. It slowly tipped over and I plunked over with it trying not to get tangled in all the sheets that immediately floated around as the boat rolled. I waited until it completely flipped, and the center board (or 'fin' under the sailboat) was sticking strait up. Let me tell you - sailing is a great workout!

Next, I lunged up to grab the centerboard and proceed to put all my weight up and lean so-as to slowly roll back the boat on its side. You have to then hoist up on top of this now horizontal centerboard and continue to keep it rolling until the sail is back facing the sky.

Yay - all those work-out classes are paying off because getting the boat back upright came pretty easy. Getting in the boat was the toughest part. It takes a lot of body strength, and then once up flinging your legs into the boat took a lot of energy. What a rush when you finally get back in that boat. Capsizing the boat was the best thing I could have done early on because after that my fear seemed to subside. What's the worst that can happen now- I capsize? Been there, done that....

The rest of the evening was lots of practicing of tacking and jibing - where you turn the boat into and away from the direction the wind is coming. It can be tricky because you have to switch sides in the boat while avoiding the boom (the large base of the sail that swings freely.) I now have my fair share of bruises to show how graceful I am - not! Hopefully with practice I will learn how to move about without flinging to my knees on the floor of the boat.

By the end I was improving much more in my finessing of the boat back and forth. My best part ended up being coming into the dock. This was my other worry next to capsizing, but it went pretty well the first, then the second, and on and on... we kept practicing sailing up to the dock like we were coming in. I definitely will have to practice in different wind directions and strengths to really get this down, but after tonight I feel pretty confident coming into the dock.

I guess I improved enough through the evening and actually achieved my tech rating - which was a great surprise. You basically take this third tech class over and over till you pass - so I was thrilled to get through and now be able to take the boat out whenever I can. No more having to fight to get into the classes. Who knew I could actually do this sailing thing!

These little successes in learning new things have really been so gratifying. It has been a while since I've been in a class where you have to study and worry about not knowing what to do, but in life you definitely need to keep challenging yourself. I think that's the secret to staying young and sharp - a great lesson I have been taught by my family. Even my grandparents continue to challenge themselves and learn new things whenever they can. What great role-models!

So - cheers to learning new things, to little successes, and finally to the amazing night I had on the lake at the terrace. I hope this is the first of many sailing adventures to come! Ahoy!

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