Four days that changed my life

Well into my sixties and a bit deaf, I read “Learn to Sail” in four Saturdays at Carsington Sailing Club.

There were ten of us on the course, we started at the civilised hour of 10 am and over a cup of tea (and bacon sandwich), spent an hour or so introducing ourselves and learning some of the basic principles of sailing.
After lunch we launched the Comet Trios, an aptly named dinghy designed for three. Andy the instructor, Tracy and I were the trio sailing her.
Lovely comfortable boat and within 10 minutes I was reaching (sailing) up and down between two buoys. Tracy and I were helming, reaching, tacking, being close hauled, on a run and above all watching the sails.
It was easy, I was obviously gifted, born to be a sailor, and to be honest Tracy wasn’t bad either.

The second Saturday followed the same format except halfway through the day Andy jumped ship; it was just Tracy and me... and the cruel sea ( ok, reservoir).
Without that quiet word of advice from Andy perhaps I wasn’t gifted after all, but between us we gradually came to understand more about sailing and finished the day laughing in the company of the (gallant) ten trainee sailors over (yes) another cup of tea.

And that is the course.
From the seven instructors we learned quite a bit about sailing, they made us welcome and I like to think we have become friends.
From my fellow sailor Tracy I learned such homilies as “A tidy ship is a happy ship”, “Where’s your life jacket?”, and “Have you closed the self-bailers?”
I have taught Tracy to shout (otherwise I wouldn’t hear her) and maybe that men aren’t as clever as they claim they are.

Four days that changed my life. A sport that anyone can do and if you remember the exhilaration (trepidation) of first driving a car then multiply that by 10 and that’s the best I can do to describe the adrenaline fuelled excitement it gives.
And I’m not alone: of the ten that started the course all ten joined the club and are sailing in one form or another.

There is a lot of jargon: I’ve already mentioned buoys, tacking and reaching. There’re lots more designed to make a simple sport appear complicated.
They have gates, knots for speed and knots for tying the dinghy up and even cats’ eyes. No, they are not down the centre of the reservoir, it’s a hazard, “Be careful you don’t cats’ eyes” they say.
Forget the jargon; let me give you some inside information. All you need is a boat, (the club hires them out, they have about 50 available), a sail a rudder and a sheet (another mumbo, it’s a piece of rope) at least one eye, three pairs of hands and a Tracy.
Yes, every boat needs a Tracy.

Tony Johnstone