At the Helm
Wow it Was MAGIC out there today!!! SUUUUPER intense rush experiencing 2 hours at the helm, fighting the wind through a small lightning storm! The sail at full mast and full roller furling bulging out so hard from the wind the yacht would lean right over into the water while I fought against the wind that kept trying to suck us into its vortex or push us right over. It really felt like we were just going to fall over because the water was licking the rim. After a while I couldnt even stand upright it got so severe, I was sitting down on the other edge while steering and pushing my feet out to get a good grip. The wind was so temperamental the skipper and Jeremy were waiting on command to keep moving the sails, tacking and jibing the roller furling (or flip the massive front sail from one side across to the other depending on the wind) which was also at full size. Inbetween they'd sit back (on the side I was also leaning into for safety) and enjoy the rollercoaster ride while I sweated bullets.
Having only ever done the grunt work up until today it was exhilarating and liberating and dead frighting to be at the helm, especially in this weather without any helm experience. The ropes were so taught I could hear them groaning as we galloped at crazy speed over the swells. There are so many things to worry about, for example when turning if you dont keep an eye on the wind that the main sail doesn't collapse and flop, the boom can come from holding the sail out across the water to suddenly come swinging at incredible speed right across the boat and knock people on the head or right off into the ocean. The skipper who ran the course is definitely a daredevil who takes racing seriously and often wins which I love! But he still has a tremendous respect for the ocean and never takes risks over the edge, though it seems he will ride the risks and comfort levels right on the bleeding edge to get maximum speed. He has a reputation for being the only person at the club out sailing come hell or high water and today was no exception. We were the only ones out there today getting drenched with huge smiles on our faces. I got to experience all kinds of sailing weather and winds over the past 4 days, even sailing in practically no wind.
Thanks to Paul Dennett and his hands on approach I freaking LOVE sailing!!! He's absolutely obsessed with sailing in a very fun way and that kind of passion is very infectious. Although the Competent Crew course I did was supposed to be very basic, knowing how to do the grunt work, knots, general safety etc, he seems to be happy to stretch a student as far as they want to go and Im pretty damn sure that Jeremy (my step-dad) and I were doing a lot of in-depth skipper training as well. He wont dumb it down even though we were total newbies and at the same time isnt impatient if you dont catch onto something immediately or even a bunch of times. Eventually it all makes total sense and becomes completely intuitive. Today I missed breakfast, lunch while we sailed for about 6 hours and except for my somewhat dry top half was drenched, freezing cold and didnt care. I just wanted to sail.
Of course when I got home the first thing I did was grab a ready to eat banana and jumped right into the shower. As I stood there munching the steaming hot water slowly revived my completely numb fingers and toes while I squealed every few minutes with happiness that a day like today really happened. Can't stop grinning!
I love it at the helm. Love it love it LOVE it!!
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