Filed Under (Boats and Boating Gear) by Debbie on 07-02-2008

My hubby took me to Martinique for our honeymoon on what’s called a land cruise. The place we stayed offered sailing lessons on Lazer sailboats and while I’d never thought about sailing my then ‘new’ hubby wanted me to try it as he already knew how to sail. (Guys always want to know how to get their wives interested in sailing…warm water, tropical location, tanned cute instructor and hubby no where in sight works well…)

For the next two days I take a two hour lesson in the afternoons.  The first part of day one I learn how to rig the Lazer sailboat and then go out onto the water with my instructor where I repeatedly dump over the boat.  For two days he just laughs at me and lets me fall screaming on top of the sail in the water and then waits for me to crawl out on to the daggerboard (?) to bounce up and down and bring the boat back upright. After those two days of lessons, I finally get the hang of it and I’m allowed to take one out in the bay by myself.

Now bear in mind before the wedding, my sister talked long and hard about being in the ocean with sharks, complete with a rhyme…something about tails that go up and down you’ll be fine but side to side…you’re gonna die! So each time I get into the ocean water more than knee deep, I have her stupid rhyme run through my head.  This probably explains the screaming as I’m turtling the Lazer during my lessons.

So here we are my hubby and I, each of us in our own little Lazer gleefully sailing around the warm tropical bay off the coast of Martinique with St. Anne as a picturesque back-drop.  Who could ask for more?

The sun is shining, the breeze is warm, the water is pretty even though you can’t see the bottom and life is nice. I’m having fun…then I see a large dark shape in the water just off a little way from me and the boat.  You remember the boat?  The one I kept turning over and falling into the water from? My sister’s rhyme pops into my head.

I take a calming breath and look for my hubby thinking he could ‘James Bond’ to my rescue, he’s far away.  I tell myself, just slowly turn the boat, it’ll be fine. I very carefully push the tiller and tack off away from the huge monster in the water. I remind myself fish are stupid, that shark isn’t looking for someone learning to sail and isn’t laying in wait for them to fall into the water. It doesn’t know… just stay in the boat.  I sail smoothly on.

The sun is shining, the sky is blue, the dark shape in the water is back! OMG the movie ‘jaws’ springs to mind. Now I’m freaking out! Don’t dump over becomes the mantra in my brain, I’ve got to  head to the shore and get off the water. Only problem is I have to jibe to do this. The self talk in my head was amazing as the jibe was when I always turtled the boat.

Sheet in my teeth, one hand white knuckled on the topside, I shoved the tiller over and ducked below the swinging boom. The Lazer heeled and I feared I would land in the water as I let the sheet play out. My eyes swung around to see if the shark was following me…

Nope…but the stupid shadow of the sail was still there…never was a shark…could have killed my sister!

3 Comments posted on "Sailing a sailboat for the first time"
Terry Ryan on March 9th, 2008 at 9:41 am #

Well, ya had me going.
Good story.
Enjoy your new-found passion.
Terry from Toronto

Debbie on March 9th, 2008 at 11:23 am #

Thanks Terry, I really could have killed my sister. I don’t think I’ve ever been so scared on the water. I was just sure it was a shark. Boy, didn’t I feel stupid once I figured it out! Thanks for visiting Terry.

Downed Economy and the Cruising Dream on February 9th, 2009 at 10:37 am #

[…] realize that eight years ago the only sailing I’d ever done was a few days of dingy sailing ( here’s that story) while on vacation.  It took two years to choose our current coastal cruising sailboat and I […]

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