Sailing [en]

[fr] La voile et moi. Histoire.

Note: I’ve been thinking of writing this post all afternoon, but put it off because I figured I should illustrate it, and some of the photos I’d like to use are stuck on this computer because of the bad internet connection I have here. Perfect example of how wanting to do things “well” easily leads to doing them “not”.

My parents met in Scotland, sailing. So, if you’re one to read signs and stuff, it would come as no surprise that I like sailing. My largely land-bound brother would probably beg to differ.

As far as I can remember, my dad has had a boat of some kind. On Lac de Neuchâtel when we were little, then Lac Léman (Lake Geneva). Holidays on the French canals, in Yugoslavia (nowadays the Croatian islands), and around another lake I can’t quite clearly remember (Lake Constance?).

I always liked going on the boat, but stuck to doing what I was told, pretty much.

When I came back from India in 2000, I signed up to be waiting-listed for a berth in one of the Lausanne ports. I knew that finding a spot for the boat each year was a bit of a juggling act, and for complicated local political reasons, my dad couldn’t sign up for one. There was a 10-15 year waiting list, but it cost nothing, and I figured I might as well put myself on the list, just in case it became handy some day down the line.

In 2008, I was very surprised to receive notice that I had been attributed a mooring in Vidy. It was good timing, as the boat had recently been washed ashore after the buoy it was moored to outside the port had broken during a storm. It was damaged, but the insurance would pay. Now it had a safe place to live.

The mooring being in my name, I had to pass my sailing permit. This was a good thing: I’d been planning on doing it a few years earlier, but life took over and I dropped the project. This was the kick in the pants I needed. I started accompanying my dad and his crew more seriously on their Wednesday evening races, and passed my Swiss sailing permit in fall 2009.

Before I started actually learning how to sail, I remember I used to find it a rather frustrating experience. It was hard to steer the boat in the direction I wanted it to go (though I’d of course done it in the past, under supervision). I didn’t understand the wind, or how to trim the sails. A lot of what went on on the boat was a mystery to me.

With time and practice, though, things started to sink in. I started to be able to take the boat roughly where I wanted it to go. I started getting the hang of the sail thing.

With a boat at sea now (here in Torrevieja, Spain), it made sense for me to go one step further and do a sea-based course. That’s what I’ve been doing this week — the RYA Day Skipper course. (I also added in Powerboat level 2 and VHF/DSC operator training, but that was unplanned, icing on the cake.) I learned a lot during this course (if you’re in Spain and want classes, book with Serenity Sailing without hesitation), but it also allowed me to realise how far I’ve come in just a few years. A whole lot of things which I used to find challenging are now almost automatic: I know where the wind is without having to really think of it, for example, because I now pick up on a bunch of signs that give me this information.

So the next step now? Gather a bunch of friends who are interested in a sailing holiday, and charter a boat for a week or two somewhere in some nice sunny islands. Oh, and if you have a powerboat lying around somewhere that needs to be taken out for a spin every now and again, let me know!