Sunday, June 23, 2013

What a life!

My hair is sticky with salt, my hands are covered in rope burns and I've got bruises on all four limbs. Clearly yesterday was a good day.

Yesterday was my second time crewing on a boat with the Lagos Yacht Club. Last week I sailed on a Lightning. (Below are some Lightnings all packed up for the day.) Basically, these are the type of boat most people picture when they think about sailing. It's called a mono-hull because it has one hull (the part of the boat that you sit in).

This week I crewed on a Hobie Cat. Hobies are catamarans (they have two hulls and as I learned, zero places to store things). See below.
So far my impression is that the Lightning is a bit more 'civilized'. You don't get very wet, you go a little slower, you won't be leaving with many bruises to show off. The Hobie was more exciting. We moved fast and there were lots of moments when the boat was tipped almost perpendicular to the water and we were hanging off the trapeze. See the guy below, the one that isn't even in the boat? Yeah, that was me yesterday. (I could dedicate a whole post to how awesome I look in a trapeze harness too. ;) All that speed requires a lot more physical effort (hence the bruises and rope burns) but it was a lot of fun. And we got second place in the race - due 100% to my very experienced and skilled sailing buddy.
Picture from Wikipedia (
Both times were absolutely wonderful. I love the water, the breeze in my hair, the sun. I love learning how to handle the ropes and the sails. I love hanging off the side of the boat and flying toward the finish line. It's pretty much the best thing ever.
The Lagos Yacht Club has a fleet of each type of boat. The Hobies are at a separate beach with a nice little hangout spot. I've heard they do barbeques on Sundays so I'll have to check that out sometime too.

Sailing seems like one of those skills that is deceptively simple on the surface. I imagine it would only take a few days to master the ropes, but the more difficult task of knowing when to tack and how far to push the boat and how to work the wind just right would take a lifetime to perfect. Anyway, I'm glad to have the opportunity to learn what I can now. And I really have been learning a lot. Below are the rules of sailing as interpreted by yours truly.

Rule #1 - don't sit on the ropes. If you know nothing else about sailing this one tip will at least make you a tolerable third wheel.

Rule #2 - mind the boom (the big beam that swings back and forth at approximately head level whenever the boat turns)

Rule #3 - trust the helm (the captain). If the helm says to attach yourself to a rope and hang off the side of the boat, just go with it. If they have the boat almost completely tipped over, just go with it. What's the worst that could happen?

Rule #4 - bring dry clothes, you will get wet. And while I'm on the subject of clothes, wear appropriate clothes on the boat. I thought that gloves and 'water shoes' were overkill before I went out. Now I (and my ropeburned hands) know differently. Gear is important - when I go back to the states I will definitely be investing in a set of gloves, knee pads, trapeze harness and water shoes.

Ok, that's all the wisdom I've got for you at this point.

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