Sunday, October 5, 2014

Who's Having Fun? Not.

Pope wants me to be a sailor, like him. He expounds on the beauty of sunrise, gliding across glistening water with engine off, and exotic shores reachable only by boat.
He entices me with gorgeous magazine pictures of lagoons, caves, sea turtles and stingrays, and bright purple coral. Sunny days, blue skies and, crystal clear water.
 Not to mention elegant, teak-trimmed boats with built-in wine racks. 

Enticing, yes? And, indeed, I have seen my share of attractive destinations. But the total experience is often startingly different from the fantasy people envision. You can read about it in this blog; just click on a few of my posts about our winter in the Bahamas.
Even in the local rivers and bays, sailing is not always what it's cracked up to be.

This morning, Pope stayed in bed with chills, fever, and a massive headache--unusual for him, being generally healthy and robust.
Why so run down? Here's his sad story, about a sailing experience yesterday on the Potomac River.

He was very excited to be racing with a military sailing club--a club that made him jump through 20-foot-high hoops to get in, with their incredibly rigorous standards and tests. The club's boats are operated and maintained by members--supposedly to similarly high standards.

First thing that happened: the third crew member didn't show. (In a military club--what's up with that?) Leaving a crew of two for a race to Mt. Vernon in high winds.

Next: the second crew member had the wrong VHF radio channel for the race announcements--leaving him and Pope in the dark when the details of the racecourse were revealed.

Third: when the wind picked up, they tried to reef the sail--but several mechanisms were in poor condition and failed to hold.

Finally: the boat bumped into one of the logs that often float off the banks of Old Town, tearing the rudder loose and leaving the crew without maneuverability, under full sail in 25-knot winds, just off the rocks near Alexandria. 

As I know full well, hauling in sail in strong wind is a challenge for two people, with one of them staying on the wheel. In this case, one person (Pope) also had to hold on to the rudder behind the stern, trying to secure it and at the same time manually manipulate it to steer the boat away from the rocks.

I wasn't there. I can only imagine how panicked I would have been. When even Pope--who adores sailing and sings its praises every chance he gets--comes home traumatized, defeated, and sick....well, my reluctance to take up sailing as a hobby is strongly reinforced.

Who's having fun now? No, not even Pope.

So, let's see can I get out of it?

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