I’m learning to sail. And the first thing that struck me after Lesson One was whether the sign of a real sailor is when they’re as neat and tidy in their own homes as they are on their boats.
Because if we all lived life on earth the same way as life on board, there would be no tangled headphones, no unnecessarily long extension leads, no underwear abandoned on the floor beside the bed. Just neat little coils and knots, sorted out and tucked away in their correct place. Imagine that.
Imagine a world where, when you’d finished doing something, everything was put back exactly where it was before you started. Imagine a world when if something was broken, or even looked like it was about to break, it was fixed immediately. And I mean properly fixed, not a bodge job. What’s more, all the tools would be immediately tidied away, not left lying around.
I’m really hoping all this stuff can come true as the husband’s learning with me. Likewise he’s hoping I’ll quickly pick up the concept of immediately doing what your fellow crew member has asked you to do without argument. I actually have no problem with that when it comes to being on the water. But I’m completely at sea when it comes to understanding what I’m being told to do. I’m OK with the port and starboard stuff; it’s when a mainsheet’s not to that large piece of material that’s driving the boat along, but the rope used to control it. Except of course on a boat, you never call a rope a rope, but a line. And what on earth’s a vang? Or a clever pig? Apart for another name for a cunning ham.
Then there are the all-important knots, with their standing ends, working ends, and bitter end. It doesn’t help when you’re a leftie trying to tie it rightie. It also doesn’t help when you’re looking online how to tie a ‘boleyn’ only to discover it’s actually spelled ‘bowline’. Next lesson I’m asking our instructor to show me how to tie an ‘Anne’ just for badness.
So you can probably tell that I’m currently feeling as if I’m three sheets to the wind faced with all this. In proper sailing terms, I’m ‘in irons’, the wind’s out of my sails, I’m flapping slightly, and I’m going nowhere. The husband, in contrast, can already handle a jibe as well on water as he can on land.
But he’s still to roll up his underwear neatly when we go to bed. So not quite a real sailor yet then.
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