When I added this to my list around four years ago I thought it was a bit of a pipe dream, a goal that would require some serious cash to get going. As a result I didn’t do an awful lot about it past researching lessons and sailing holidays.
Then I noticed last year some clubs running free family sailing taster days. Unfortunately I didn’t get a place but the thought was lodged in my mind.
I mentioned sailing club taster days over a coffee with a friend back in May and by some strange coincidence (is this synchronicity?) she saw a flyer on a singles page on Facebook that very same day and sent it to me. I signed up immediately and later she also signed up, as did my brother.
I attended the open day at the Royal Temple Yacht Club in June with a mixture of excitement and nervousness, I was thrilled to be there but also fearful that I would fall in love with a hobby I couldn’t afford.
The day was amazing, beautiful weather, a stereotype salty sea dog skipper, chances to take the ropes and the helm. All followed by lunch at the club and getting to talk to members. This is where I discovered the most wonderful revelation… I didn’t need lessons to sail, I didn’t need to own a boat to sail and I didn’t need cash to sail. I was told to make friends with those affectionately known as RBOs (rich boat owners), who apparently are always looking for crew. Filled with excitement I eagerly signed up on the crew register.
After hearing nothing for a month I sadly accepted that I probably wasn’t going to get a call…. Then, totally unexpectedly, I listened to the most wonderful answer phone message from the salty sea dog himself telling me that he’d bought a new boat, racier than the one I’d been out on, her name was Outlaw and was I free to race that Sunday!
A bundle of nerves I rolled up at ShipShape cafe for breakfast and followed the crew down to the boat and there I began learning quicker than any classroom lesson could ever teach me.
I’ve since been out for around 9 races, including 3 during regatta week. I’ve had to learn rapidly and react to emergencies!
I’ve been sent up to the top of the mast twice and was bursting with pride to be told I was permanent crew after that.
I’m learning my sheets and sails, I’ve figured out the main, the jib, genoa, sails no.1, 2 and 3, spinnaker and gennaker. I know how to set up the boat and put everything away again (I’m fussy with flakes)! I understand the halyards (especially having retrieved one from the top of the mast), I can tack, gybe, skirt, winch, tail, cleat, helm and dump the main! I’m gradually mastering my knots (half hitch, figure 8 and I’ve nearly got the bowline).
Now I’ve got my own kit bag complete with salopettes, gloves and thermals, I’ve nearly been overboard and I’ve been drunk at enough post race celebrations to feel part of team Outlaw!
I’ve got a lot to learn (and I must get over my fear of using the toilet down below!) but I think the Autumn series combined with doing my day skipper qualification will be enough for me to mark this goal complete!
I can’t express just how joyful this experience has been for me, being at sea takes every bit of concentration with no room for stress or self-consciousness. I love the sounds, the smells, the beautiful seascapes, I love the skipper and the crew, I love the adrenaline rushes and even the injuries, I love the post race banter and drinks onboard, I love Outlaw herself.
I really couldn’t be happier at making headway on this goal. 3 months ago