My first experience of sailing did not get off to the smoothest of starts. Yes, York is a nice place, but an hour and a half stuck in the station while they cleared some poor bugger off the line was no fun. So by the time I eventually arrived at Ipswich I was certainly looking forward to a more tranquil and relaxing form of transport.
A short car journey to the marina and, in no time at all, I was safely aboard Incus, a 32-feet yacht, with my captain for the weekend, Ian, and his first mate, Ross. Clearly keen to set me at ease, Ross cheerfully informed me that there had been an issue with his CRB clearance but I shouldn’t worry about it. In normal circumstances I might have feared for my virginity, but hey, the guy had brought a Chinese take-away and I was starving, so I figured it was worth the risk.
Bellies filled, my fellow sailors set about establishing my previous experience, skills and qualifications to be employed over the coming 48 hours. Before you could yell ‘Ahoy there’ they had established that I was about as much use as a tin of spam in a synagogue. Which meant, of course, more work for them. I felt sure they’d get their own back at some point.
During a fitful sleep, I learned that my fellow sailor’s revenge for landing them with my fat useless northern arse was stereophonic snoring. Still, whilst I could hear them snoring I knew they weren’t busy plotting my watery demise.
The actual sailing bit seemed to me a bit complicated. Shallow waters to navigate, big cargo ships to avoid, sails to let out and pull in, angles to work out, buoys to spot, tides to judge and so on. Just as well I was there to keep them right, I reckon. They say a good sailor should be able to sail by the feel of the wind on his face. All I needed was an audio compass to keep me right, but skipper Ian reckoned this electronic, bleeping device would be bleeping annoying. Instead I had them both telling me every five seconds “5 degrees right”, “Ten degrees left” etc. Much more relaxing.
At one point I felt sure that Ross’s CRB issue was about to become all too clear. We were heading for a nice quiet backwater – somewhere where we wouldn’t be disturbed. But first, we had to pick up a boy! Thankfully, once we’d picked up the buoy we found our backwater and dropped anchor for a delightful lunch.
All in all a splendid weekend, with two very nice southerners. Weird, eh?