AN ANCIENT MARINER'S TALE
Val recalls Saturday 17th August 2019
BBC forecast winds 10-12mph, gusting 22 mph...
Went sailing today with great trepidation. I should have listened to my misgivings but decided to face my demons. Reluctantly togged up in wet suit, rubber boots, buoyancy aid, and a borrowed red crash hat that made me look like a boiled egg. Rigged the Laser. Dragged it into the water and pushed off. Big mistake. Wind frisky as hell at the start. Hung on with fear and determination.
But soon ... I was s-a-i-l-i-n-g and .... it didn't seem too bad after all. Started to relax. There were patches with no wind. Then there were mega GUSTS ... The extreme contrast made it difficult to react and plan but I followed the others as best I could. Headed for the mark at the top of the lake, then rounded it with a completely out of control spectacular POWER GYBE ... and took off like a bat out of hell. (Where are the photographers when you need them?) Steadied up and carried on sailing. Eeek, I survived! Processed all the information and started to settle down, even beginning to chase the boats ahead. All very, very tricky, with lots of leaping about. Yay, was starting to enjoy it.
Second lap loomed. 'I can do this', I thought, and continued to negotiate the gusts and lulls. Arrived at the top mark feeling rather good and consciously prepared for the gybe to come. Ha. Fat chance. The water ahead was boiling with mischief and unpredictable blasts. Ah well, here goes. Made it! Phew! Then I noticed that just ahead, Peter Thornley's Comet was over, and he was 'in the drink'. A rare sight indeed - he never capsizes. Help! This intensified my concentration for the return journey, only to be wiped out seconds later by a HUGE GUST which flattened my Laser. I managed to leg-it-over the side and sit on top of the capsized boat while I caught my breath. Finally worked up enough courage to try to right the Laser, took my time, mentally rehearsed the moves, but ............... oh hell .............. it came over on top of me. Before I knew it, I was sliding helplessly into the water too.
The end of the story is a saga of bobbing up and down for what seemed like a long time as I hung on to the hull which was being blown along on its side. Eventually it was held by the floating reed island at the top of the lake and I waited to be picked up by the rescue boat. Nothing seemed to happen for quite a while. When I eventually jokingly complained to the Rescue Team that they hadn't checked if I was alive, Shaun said: "Well, we were rescuing Pete and we did a risk assessment and decided you were OK!" Huh!!! Finally, I was invited to put my foot into a stirrup dropped over the back of the rescue boat and step up, which worked quite well until I found myself sprawled face down trying to wriggle forward into the boat with legs up in the air behind me. After a bit of a tussle I slid into the bottom of the boat. This ancient mariner was totally and utterly shattered by the time she got home!!!!
PS. Pete unfortunately cracked a rib as a result of being rescued, and my lower back was bruised by the gymnastics of getting aboard the safety boat. I don't suppose either of us will forget that day.