Rightly or wrongly, there comes a time in a relationship when you decide you need a pastime to enjoy together. Lizzie and I reached that point in 2012. I know she had a fixation with the Mayan prophecies, so there may have been an element of wanting to enjoy something together while we still could. (Did anyone ever ask the Mayans to double-check their diaries, by the way?)
In May of that year, we went to an Open Day at a sailing club, and there was something about seeing boats on the water that set us both thinking this could be what we were looking for. As it turned out, we were each looking for slightly different experiences, but we didn’t appreciate it just then. A pleasant ride in a dinghy was enough to reassure us both that this was a good idea and, before the afternoon was over, we were all set to spend pretty much every Sunday till the end of October at that lake.
To be fair, although it’s referred to as a lake, it’s not much more than a glorified pond. But as a place to learn how to sail, it’s terrific. You’re never too far from the bank, the water’s not too deep (12 feet at its deepest point) and because there aren’t any very long sections, you can really practice your tacking and gybing (or turning, as we say in English).
We had a great summer, steadily improving our skills to the point where we were allowed out on our own. But already the differences in our expectations were beginning to show. Lizzie had seen sailing as a relaxing, lazy way of spending some time together. More importantly to her, it was time to be spent on the water.
I, on the other hand, was looking for something a little more exciting. With a dinghy that usually means building up resistance between the wind and the sail, and that leads to your boat tilting at an angle. This is fine, if you can counter the weight of the wind by leaning out the other side – I’m sure you’ve seen footage of this in action. To be fair, I’ve never taken it to extremes – in a relatively small lake, you barely have time to lean (or hike) out before it’s time to turn. Even so, I was regularly caught out by the wind, the boat capsizing and, on more than one occasion, me being catapulted through the air to land in the water. Bearing in mind my previous post, you can probably imagine that I loved it. I even loved it when I hit the water and came up and found the sail on top of me, apparently trapping me under the water. It was exhilarating.
Not everyone sees it that way, though. And it soon came to pass that Lizzie and I were sailing separately. To be fair, we both recognised that we wanted different things from the sailing, and she didn’t want me to feel constrained by her presence in a boat with me (and, honest guv, I was more restrained when she was there).
Even so, over the next couple of years her interest in the sailing diminished as mine grew stronger. So the plan to share a pastime together led to me spending most Sundays sailing while she stayed at home.
At the end of last year, the club had their annual social event and one of the instructors persuaded Lizzie to come back this season. It was interesting to note that he compared our sailing abilities. Now, bear in mind that I’ve spent a lot more time on the water than she has. Even when we went together, I’d usually be in a boat for longer – as soon as a boat was free I’d grab it and go. I’ve since also sailed on other lakes and a little bit at sea, which she hasn’t. But according to the instructor, technically, she’s a better sailor.
Some people might be offended by that, but I’m not. As Clint once said: “A man has to know his limitations.” I’m not the world’s best swimmer, but I love being in the water. I’ll never be a brilliant sailor, but I love being on the water. As long as I’m having fun and not putting anyone else at risk, I don’t care if I’m technically better or worse. That doesn’t stop me wanting to learn more, though, which is why I’ve looked for opportunities to expand my boating abilities. And I’ll talk some more about that next time.
In the mean time, if I’ve w(h)et your appetite, here’s some club sailing to watch.