Ah! That lovely moment when the sails are set and the motor is silenced.
An almighty calm descends and suddenly all is right in the world. Worries seem to blow away with the breeze, peace warms your heart like sunshine and a sigh, like the gentle lap of water against the hull, escapes my lips.
And then the skipper yells, “Alright, time to tack. Diana, you man the port jib sheet!”
What the H? How do I man a sheet? A tack sounds like something you don’t want to sit on and a jib sounds like something short and stubby. Suddenly, my heart is pounding and my palms start to sweat.
Our skipper explains it very clearly (or at least he thinks he does) and the manoeuvre, which means moving the front sail to the other side so you can zig instead of zag into the wind is completed safely and adequately. Even though I did let go too soon, didn’t pull the rope (I mean line… no, I mean sheet) fast
enough, didn’t know what “cleat it in” meant and (apparently the worst of my errors) wrapped the sheet counterclockwise instead of clockwise around the metal stubby pole-like thingy, I still got a “Well done!” from the skipper. Whew! By the time we’d tacked about six more times, I was actually getting pretty good.
We are in New South Wales and have met up with our travel companions for the next month, H&G. We are all staying with (or near) their long-time friends from Canada, B&B (whom I shall call B(she) and B(he) respectively), who have now retired to Yamba.
B&B have travelled all over the world and just come back from Africa. In fact, when I told them about our pictures taken from the eastern most mainland point of Australia, they admitted they have the same picture from each of Australia’s cardinal points. When asked, after seeing all four corners of Australia, why they chose Yamba, their answers were quite specific. B(she) is a very avid swimmer so it had to have a warm-enough ocean but south of the box jellyfish range. B(he),who is of course our skipper, loves to fresh water sail so it had to have a large river or lake.
Thus: Yamba. In fact, their choice was almost Byron Bay, but when they went back to the sleepy little surfer town after twenty years they were astonished at the changes. Apparently, Yamba is what Byron Bay was like two decades ago.
And this is what brings us to sailing across the Clarence River to Iluka on such a beautiful sunny day.
I have decided I definitely love sailing. At least on easy, breezy, lazy days. Interestingly enough, B(she) only likes sailing on wild days when the wind, waves and sheets are all snapping and you have to tack every few seconds to avoid sandbars rushing at you.
Brrr! Not for me! I prefer sailing on the boring, relaxing, John Denver style “sunshine on my shoulders” days.