Wednesday, July 31, 2013

I am a sailor! on a sailboat!

"People always talk about how nice it would be to own a yacht and stuff," I was saying to S as we paddled our kayaks back from West Arm. "But you know, I don't actually want my own boat. I just want friends with boats who can invite me to go hang out on their own boat."

Lo and behold, like maritime vision, a sailboat suddenly emerged into view. She moved smoothly across the water, manned by only one man.

We waved at the sailboat as it drew closer to our kayaks.

"I couldn't get a crew to come with me today," B said as he greeted us from his sailboat. "Nobody wanted to go sailing."

I found this hard to believe. Who would turn down the opportunity to be on a boat? So I graciously volunteered to get on the boat, the next time she sailed.

The boat's name by her previous owners is the Arctic Mariner, which makes sense. She's a small-sized sailboat with oars instead of a motor when there is no wind.  Despite her modest size, she's capable of sailing all the way across the Northwest Passage, which she has done. B, the sailboat's owner, has been sailing a long time and has been all around the world. On his first voyage, he took a boat all the way from Cambridge Bay to Hamburg, Germany, which is no easy feat in icy Arctic waters.  I was excited to give it a try.

"Gloria, do you even know anything about sailing?" someone asked me.
"Sure, I do," I said. "You hoist up the John B's sail, see how the main sail sets, call for the captain ashore..."
"Those are Beach Boys lyrics."

Okay, so I knew nothing about sailboats, but I was eager to learn, as it seems like there is so much to take in.  As a side note, did you know that Brian Wilson was afraid of the water?

There was no wind when we first left the shore, so we rowed.  It was still nice. Kids waved to us from shore, and tourists took photos of us.

S and B are working hard, rowing.  I am also working hard, photographing

Eventually the wind picked up, just a little, so we released the oars and put up the jib and the main sail, so the sailboat could drift at a leisurely pace.

I love being on a boat. There are just so many things that my imagination could run wild about. I am a gondolier in the canals of Venice. I am a pirate, scanning the seas for treasure. I am Jack Sparrow. I am Pi. I am an extra in a Lonely Island video.

[warning: contains swearing]

"Hey guys, I'm on a boat!"

B was kind enough to let me try working some of the sails myself. There were so many knots in what seemed to be a complicated rope system. How do I know which one to pull? What if I yanked the wrong rope and instead caused the boom to swing around and knock me off the boat, just like the way it always happens in Hollywood comedy films? Luckily, I found the right rope.  But I still kept my head low for much of the trip, just in case.

( the way, don't forget to sponsor me for the Polar Bear Dip that I'll be doing in a few days! I'll be jumping into the Arctic Ocean - without a wet suit - as part of a fundraiser to raise money for a new community facility.)