Monday, 22 August 2011

The Art of Sailing is...

not sailing ... to paraphrase Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon.

And it's probably one the hardest aspects to become proficient in (see his six pack?)

I didn't mention in my post about sailing in the Clyde we were stormbound for four days. What was particularly difficult was that it wasn't that stormy: only blowing 25mph ish - not impossible to sail in, especially if it's behind or alongside you. But the level of the crew's experience made it too windy. What's the point of taking people out for their second only trip when you know it's going to be stressful? When everything will need to be done quickly, efficiently and with strength?

None.

It's a holiday, not life or death, or honour or any of that Bruce Lee stuff (see my one pack).

It got harder every day. We didn't know on day one that it'd be day five we'd be sailing. We were hoping it'd be day two, then day three, etc, meanwhile listening to the coastguard's updates morning, afternoon and evening, watching any flags, checking the sea state for wind strength, while also trying to make the most of the sunshine - it was blowy but also gloriously sunny - and let go of sailing being the focus of the trip. Tough when there is three of you on a 29 footer.

We tried to laugh. Did quite a good job of that. Spent time practising knots and recalling names of bits of the boat, as well as eating ice creams.

But as the days rolled on, the pressure of that first sail with a new crew grew. Everyday I had to remind myself of our capabilities, experiences and the reliability of the boat, and, most regularly, visualise who would do what when it came for us to slip our moorings (see previous post about foresight...)

It reminded me of the preparation I make in advance of what usually becomes quite a good poem - the thinking and rethinking of ideas and their connections, gathering images that spring to mind and flower into new ones, letting the original ones slide. Although with the sailing, I always brought it back to the starting point - or departure point - to run through it all again. And again.

Needless to say, we slipped off day five, without incident. Although the shift in wind direction meant we followed a slightly different course of action, but having gone through the original plan so many times, my brain was limbered up, responsive to the new circumstances - like an athelete's warm up, like this blog for my poems, like not doing stuff for ages before you do it.

The trick is to eventually do it.

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