Our first sailing experience taught us many things. We learned about sailing with lee-boards. We learned about letting the sails out and tightening them back in. Importantly, we learned that certain actions needed to be done in a certain order. For example, if you leave the lee-board down when you tack, or change direction, what happens is very curious. You go around in a complete 360 degrees circle. At first you admire that the boat is responding so well, then you start thinking it should not be responding so much, then you realise you have just spun on the spot and need to sort your direction fairly quickly.
I reflected aloud to BBM some days later that the ability for the boat to spin on the spot would probably come in handy in those regatta races where the boats appear to turn as close as they can to the bouys. BBM muttered something about we’re not going into races and he hoped no one on shore was watching as we were going in circles. My own thought was that it would have been an awesome sight from shore to see these massive stark white sails twisting on the blue water. Anyway, we’ve learned how to avoid that. You bring up the lee-board before the turn, and then quickly throw the other lee-board into the water as the boom swings across and you’re grabbing the ropes for the jib sail. Everything in its own time.
So we were on the water. It was a glorious day. We saw porpoises playing in the wake of a boat. We saw a little blue penguin bobbing along. We sailed toward Kapiti Island and then turned toward shore, a nice little sail for our first time out.
BBM told me to head for the shops at Paraparaumu Beach because we needed to aim farther up the shore than where we wanted to land, back smack dab in front of the boat club where we had launched. I aimed for the shops, realised that wasn’t far enough, so I aimed for Raumati Beach. Soon I could tell that wasn’t far enough either. I aim for Paekakariki, very quickly realising it’s going to have to be Pukerua Bay after all. So, I’m heading as far south as possible on the tack we are on.
BBM frowns and says that we’re not going to hit the spot where we launched. We have to tack back out to Kapiti Island to get the distance we need. Really? Definitely. Out we go again. It’s not really a problem since the day is beautiful, we have plenty of food and drink. We sail and sail. I’m getting tired. While I’m hot, BBM has a jacket on and says he’s cold. I wonder if he is still not feeling well after some kind of virus we’ve been fighting for a while.
We turn back from Kapiti and start toward shore again. This time BBM is going to steer us right up to the boat launch spot.
When he realises we are going to hit even farther away, closer to the Waikanae river mouth, we tack toward Kapiti Island again. This is our third time to Kapiti Island on a maiden sail which was going to be about an hour.
We see various boats heading back to shore from their day of fishing and boating. I’m looking forward to getting back. I mention that I think we should go to a restaurant since we’re going to be tired after this long sail. Yes, BBM agrees. We should hit shore just in time for beer o’clock.
Then the wind dies. Nothing. BBM says not to worry, he will start the magic 60+ year old Seagull motor. He pulls the string. Nothing. He pulls the string again. Nothing. Freaking thing is supposed to start the third time without fail. Pulls the string. Nothing.
Now we realise the tide has turned and we are moving quickly north with it. BBM points to ripples on the water 100 meters off the bow. We’ll row to the wind. We grab the oars, sit side-by-side and begin to row on his count. I look behind the boat and we’re actually leaving a wake behind us. Soon we reach the wind again and begin sailing toward shore for the third time.
By now it is occurring to us that we are not only going to miss beer o’clock, dinner time, and sunset, but we are going to miss the point of launch for the third time. We are heading into the gloom of somewhere well north of the boat club, hopefully on the south side of the Waikanae river mouth.
BBM says we’ll just run it up on the beach as it is designed to do. As we get closer and closer to the beach, I see a van which has pulled up with a young man doing something in the shallows. I quietly mention to BBM that we need to avoid landing at the young man’s feet. Yes, BBM agrees and says he thinks he will avoid him. By now I am fully appreciating the fact that a sail boat, at least with amateurs aboard, cannot be finitely controlled. I will be interested to find out over time whether sail boats can EVER be fully controlled.
So we miss the young man in the dark by about 10 meters. He offers to drive BBM up the beach to get the truck. BBM instructs me to keep the bow facing the shore while he is gone. I fully comply with his instructions as the tide is going out.
It occurs to me some time later that as the tide is going out, the boat is digging itself deeper into the sand. Perhaps I should have kept it in at least 8 inches of water? Of course, by this time my thinking is not the best. We had been in the sun and on the water for some 9 hours. Sod it. The boat was designed to be beached at low tide and floated at high tide. BBM can sort it however he wants.
BBM arrives and decides that the light of the morning will be a better time to pull the boat out. He runs me home and returns to sleep in his truck on the shore beside Dona Lucia to ensure no pirates appear to ransack her under the cover of night.
Long story short. We learned that landing ANYwhere near the boat club would have sufficed. It was so easy to pull the boat onto the trailer in the morning that we realised it would not have been issue regardless of where we landed – as intended in the design of the boat.
So we learned our boat. We learned not to worry about where we would land her. AND, we learned that a spark plug which gets knocked will not perform.
As a post-script: I went with BBM to a friend’s workshop to sort the spark plug and decide whether we required a new motor for the boat. He has all kinds of Seagull motors which his wife kindly offered to us (ALL of them). She is sick of them.
BBM and friend re-jig the spark plug such that they believe it is sorted. Shall we try it? I jump back and ask, what, HERE? We are standing on a driveway of river pebble. BBM holds the small gas tank hard against his chest and friend pulls the string.
It starts on the first pull. BBM yells, ‘WHoa! TicTicTicTicTicTic!’
I think that he’s yelling because his friend has left the crazy thing in gear, and I’m watching the blades propel just past my husband’s toes. I can see in my mind his toes flying past me and I am frantically trying to think of what kind of first aid I will need to administer.
Friend turns the motor off. Both men laugh as BBM declares, ‘Bloody thing was arcing against me stomach!’ They had forgotten to put the rubber cover back on the spark plug.
BBM wasn’t brave enough to check for burn marks until I insisted. No burn marks on his stomach, but he was still feeling twinges in his stomach the following day.