“Rich, I said I’d write about us going sailing. What happened when we went sailing?”
“We went sailing and it was nice and Trish was pleasantly surprised because it wasn’t stressful which made it even more nice and then we went home. The end.”
I’ve been sailing before, just not for a while. For a mercifully short time as a preteen I would spend a day a week freezing my imaginary tits off in a sodding Optimist off the sodding Barbican, coming last in all the races and occasionally falling in. My younger sister would not come last and seemed to enjoy the experience. Fortunately she soon got in to horses, I soon got in to snogging and writing shit poetry and we were spared that torture forever more.
Later the opportunity arose for me to join a school trip to sail to Jersey and back in some sort of yacht. Whilst all very team-buildy-outdoorsy-healthy in theory, the teachers involved must have been nuts. A large group of pubescent girls stuck together in a small space with no escape is my idea of hell. This is mostly because of how much time I spent with the creatures back in those days. Two of us got severely dehydrated (to this day dehydration turns me into a lunatic), some girl called Natasha got amusingly shaped sunburn, there was a mate who we all sort of flirted with who had written a song about a dead skunk in the middle of the road, but I don’t remember much else. This is probably a kindness that my memory has afforded me to avoid trauma flashbacks, but I just don’t know.
In adulthood all sailboat experiences have involved someone else doing the hard work, usually while I drink a cocktail or sunbathe. Other boats take me to work, to France, on daytrips, between tropical islands, snorkelling and out to see dolphins or phosphorescence or just pissing about on the blue. They’re everywhere and familiar and pretty. Boats are good. Sailing… hmm. Sailing I remember as a thing for which you have to know a whole load about knots and wind and directions, in which you do a bunch of things at once and then get smacked in the head by a big bit of wood called a boom.
So here I am, 33 and thinking about sailing away into the sunset with my boyfriend, and at some point I’m going to have to go sailing, but we haven’t managed that yet, and I don’t mind (see above). And Rich says “The tide’s right at last and Andy says we can borrow Shamrock for a little sail after work” and surprisingly I’m genuinely excited about the prospect. “After work” arrives and we go get the boat and we take her out for a wee sail, mostly with me on the tiller (Rich was most impressed that I knew which way to steer it – apparently some people get this wrong) and him doing the ropes. Rich told me where to aim her, I aimed her, the boat went slowly in that direction. It was bloody lovely. We went out and saw the gorgeous Grayhound lugger that Rich helped build last year, and took a peek at another boat he likes and talked about what colour we’ll paint Gwen and all sorts of other guff. I had a go on the ropes and tried to grasp the concepts of tack and gybe, downwind and upwind. It was all very easy and relaxed and fresh and light and joyous. And then we went home. The end.