A lesson in sailing

At first glance the title of this post might sound metaphoric as in “learning to sail through the rough seas of life.” Yeah, I’m definitely learning that lesson right now, but this post does in fact pertain to learning to sail. That’s what Aaron and I did over this past weekend; we took beginner sailing lessons.

You see, my husband is a rock star at everything he does. So he received two vouchers at work for beginner sailing lessons. The only down-side was that they expired at the end of the year and since it’s December that means the only time we would be able to use them was this month. Which mean it was cold. Like, wear your long  johns and stuff heating pads in your pants so your bum would stay warm while being sprayed my the salty Galveston Bay mist, hurling through 15 knot winds (whatever that means) kind of cold.

I’m an adventurous soul…if you catch me at the right time. Trying out a new Indian food restaurant? Nah, probably not. Spur-of-the-moment trip to NYC to go exploring with no map? SURE! Sailing? Hmmm….okay I’m game! I was excited about trying something new and getting to do it with my honey. And not to sound depressing or anything but every time I think about our whole trouble-having-a-baby issue, I try to relish in these moments that Aaron and I have right now, just the two of us. It helps make the pain a little more bearable.

Turns out, the cold actually wasn’t too miserable. I mean, it was freaking cold but thankfully I had my hat, scarf, and gloves to help block the wind. Plus, I happened to be sitting in prime real estate between everyone so I could slouch down and let them take the beating from the wind and occasional mist. Suckers.

There were ten of us on the 40-foot boat including Captain Mike. Did you know that sailing actually requires work? I did not know this. Even after watching the episode of Friends where Rachel tries to teach Joey to sail, I thought she was just being harsh. I was picturing us lounging around on the stern…or hull…or starboard side…(well, you know who WASN’T paying attention) in our cute wintery clothes drinking hot chocolate and singing Christmas songs while Captain Mike did all the work and gave mini lectures on the history of sailing (all in a pirate voice, of course). If it were summer time Captain Mike would have been in a Hawaiian shirt, and the rest of us would have been in bikinis with a beverage in our hand while paparazzi passed by in speed boats trying to get a shot of some serious PDA.

Boy was I wrong.

As soon as we reached an uncomfortable distance from shore we shut off the engines and four people worked to get the sails up and running. Four people! That included my husband. There was no snuggling and no drinking hot chocolate. He was too busy winding wenches and trying not to fall off of the side of the boat. Once the sail went up the boat turned to a 45-degree angle and I was practically laying in the water. I began saying my prayers and came to terms with the thought of losing my phone and my wallet at the bottom of the bay. As long as everyone on board didn’t drown, I was ready to go in the water. And so was Aaron. In case he was thrown overboard, he handed me his phone and wallet to put in my purse that had by this point been thrown from one side of the below living quarters to the other. I’m glad I didn’t take my DSLR – it would have been broken in pieces.

I continued to watch the crescent shaped level to my right as we caught wind and moved forward. One second we were laying on our backs, the next we switched sails and were holding ourselves up with our feet braced against the seat in front of us, potentially diving in the water if our legs collapsed. I felt as though I was riding a roller coaster I had been tricked into riding. I don’t like roller coasters.

I was genuinely afraid. It was not what I had expected at all. I had no idea the boat would be laying on its side. My nerves were calmed when Captain Mike informed me that the only time a sail boat could tip over is if it hit a wave a specific way…a way that was nearly impossible for us to hit. Maybe he was making that up, but it eased a lot of my nerves.

When we set the sails we lost one sailor to sea sickness. He immediately retreated to the downstairs bathroom and spent the entire three hour tour bowing down to the porcelain god of the ocean, not returning until we docked and were climbing off of the boat. Poor guy. The rest of us took turns pulling ropes, winding wenches, and steering. While I never had the courage to steer, once I overcame my fear I did climb up and straddle the side of the boat and performed starboard side wench duty (that sounded a lot dirtier than I meant it). Aaron steered. He is a rockstar…but it might take more practice steering a boat on an incredibly windy day. At one point while Aaron was steering, someone asked Captain Mike how long he had been sailing; Aaron immediately answered, “Five minutes.” as if they were asking him. Everyone rolled. He had trouble steering at first but once he picked out an object in the horizon he had the job down.

For someone who normally gets sick from reading a text in the car, I’m surprised I lasted as long as I did on a rocky boat sailing flailing waves. I didn’t even think to medicate myself before we went out. About an hour and a half into our three-hour adventure I began feeling a little nauseous. I started planning my escape route, looking over the side of the boat to see if I might could projectile or if I were going to have to get out of my seat and lay over the wire railings and take my chance of falling in. I found it bearable if I kept my eyes closed or if I picked out an object in the horizon and focused on that. Then we hit a rather large wave and a big splash of water drenched my jeans. The wind hitting my wet legs was cutting my skin so I decided to go down below to warm up and maybe even lay down in the dining booth. As soon as I sat down in the booth and felt that it was even rockier than the cockpit, I knew this was a mistake. Our lost sailor was tucked in a corner with his head in his hands focusing on NOT vomiting and just past him was the bathroom. My thought was to go to the bathroom and maybe try and throw up because I always feel better after I just let it out.

I excused myself past him to make my way to the bathroom. As soon as I opened the bathroom door I was met with something from a horror movie. I’m not going to describe it in detail because I don’t want to relive my reaction but basically, the toilet overflowed and there was about two inches of water slushing around on the bathroom floor with vomit everywhere. That initiated a chain reaction. The lost sailor wearily told me that there was another bathroom down a hallway. The words “PRAISE GOD!” literally came out of my mouth and I barely made it to the toilet. For the next hour I laid on the floor of the (clean, vomit-free) bathroom with my eyes closed, feeling more nauseous than I had originally, praying that I could just fall asleep. I finally did fall asleep and Aaron came down and convinced me to come back up to civilization. Even he could understand getting sick at the bottom of the boat because it was so much rockier than up top.

When I finally made it back to the top I was greeted with cheers and applause from my fellow comrades. I explained to them how I was almost okay but then I saw the crime scene in the first bathroom and I lost it. Captain Mike then joked that he had a lot of “saltwater” to clean up but I assured him that my area was spic-and-span.

We pulled in the sails, turned the engine back on, and road back into the marina. For the next thirty minutes I got what I was looking forward to the whole time; I bundled up, closed my eyes, and snuggled under Aaron’s arm while he sipped on his coffee and snuck kisses on my forehead. The sweetness of those last thirty minutes far out weighed the uncomfortable adventure of the beginning of the trip. And just because of that I would do it all over again. Medicated, of course.

Sailing was actually fun if it hadn’t been so cold and I hadn’t gotten sick. I would do it again in a heartbeat during the summer and with a hefty dose of bonine.

 

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