Sail Away, Salty Dog!

Sailing

I have wanted to learn how to sail for a really long time. I have always had such a powerful love of the sea that I knew I was going to learn how to sail at some point. Having this time off work and no real direction seemed like the perfect time to start checking things off my life list so we signed up for the Crew course at Cooper Boating on Granville Island.

Matt & Degan

This is us about to go out, pretty sure we’re going to like it.

Sailing

And we did like it, in spite of the grey days and having to be rescued on the way back in because the engine had run out of oil. Of course, sailing through the Bahamas didn’t do anything to dissuade us either so we rode our bikes down and prepared to learn the ropes.

Vancouver

Most of what we learned in the crew classroom sessions was what was required for the PCoC (Pleasure Craft Operator’s Card) exam but we also learned some of the language of sailing. There is a different name for every single thing on a sailboat and many parts of that language have made it into this (current, daily use) one. I find the crossover words delightful and love knowing the history of them. Some are obviously nautical  (knowing the ropes, loose cannon), but many are more obscure; slush fund, bitter end, taken aback, hand over fist, high and dry, by and large, hard and fast, make my way home, etc… I don’t think I’ve ever used between the devil and the deep blue sea but I love it so I’m going to have to rig a conversation where I can work it in.

We also learned how to sail, in spite of being out in 21-knot winds (a storm warning) on our first day and almost ramming another boat. We got through it though and brought our bruises and rope burns to Day 2 where our instructor filled in all the knowledge gaps and we got to know our points of sail, how to recover an object (man overboard) from the water, and how to tack and how to dock.

Bowline

Then I took the Skipper class – to learn to make the decisions and call out to the crew to get things done. This involves knowing your points of sail, knowing your plan, knowing your boat and keeping a close watch on the sail, sheets, lines and tell-tales to make sure everything is ship-shape. I have no trouble giving orders but I discovered quickly (with the help of the instructor yelling at me) that I am tiller challenged. Tillers work in the opposite way that steering wheels do and being tiller challenged means that I invariably move the tiller in the opposite way that I want to go. On a tight turn with the sails hardened, this can be pretty dramatic and by the end of the day, I was exhausted and embarrassed. But a day sailing has got to be better than a day at home on the couch, so I practiced my bowlines and studied up on my theory, and now I have my Day Skipper certification too.

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