Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Durban Weekend

I think I am starting to feel some sympathy for writers when they stare at a blank piece of paper and the words just don't leap onto the page. In my case, it is a blog page, but the experience must be somewhat similar.

Lets see, what did I get up to this weekend. Well, spent the weekend sailing which is a bit of a mission since I live 7 hours drive away from the sea (and 7 back) which results in about 8 hours of actual sailing time. Doesn't seem quite right to drive so far in a car to sit in a boat to drive all the way back but that is in essence what I did. And it wasn't just me, I had three companions so it isn't just me that isn't thinking straight.

Drove down on friday afternoon at 14:00. Boss called at 15:00, "Where the f*ck are you?" Ummm! Not at work obviously! No major crisis, boss just feeling lonely, so we carried on driving and I could feel the stress disappear along with the pollution. Uneventful drive snacking on chocolate to keep me wide awake, you never can tell when some miserable suicidal dog, donkey, cow, goat or innocent pedestrian is waiting to make a mess of my bumper, not to mention myself. Arrived safely at my parents- in-law and slept, well sort of. The sugar was still coursing through my veins so maybe sleep is a bit strong, more like dozed the night away.

Saturday morning broke. Wind NE 15-20kts, sea 1.5 to 2m. This is going to be interesting. After months of paperwork, purchasing of safety gear, organising, exams and what have you we slip out of the berth and are on our way out the harbour mouth. Radio in to harbour countrol for permission to leave the harbour which they duly gave. At least, I think they duly gave it. Between the accents and the static it is next to impossible to hear exactly what they are saying so if it even vaguely sounds like "carry on" or "ok" that is good enough. Needless to say but we met a large ship coming in while we were going out. Really quite puts things into perspecitive it does. The top of my mast doesn't even get to deck level. I'm (my yacht, for those whose imagination is overactive) 7m and the ship must be at least 120m at a guess. Anyway we scuttled down the side and out into the open ocean. This is the moment, we have been waiting and working for for 4 months ... and ... Anticlimax, like an exam. After all the effort, you finish and wonder what all the fuss was about.

Spent 6 hours beating around the ocean. We were about 7 miles offshore when the depth sounder went from 70m to 0.7 (Yes, zero point seven) which is clearly impossible. We are in the middle of the sea for crying out loud and there isn't anything on the map at all but just in case, we tack and the depth sounder goes back to a far more respectable 50m. Just a bit perturbing this, you deperately want to ignore the depth sounder because it is clearly at fault but then you think about the stories about people flying vertically into the ground because they didn't believe their instruments ... and so we tacked. It would really be awkward explaining how we managed to run aground on our first outing having ignored the depthsounder which was going off like a maniac warning us of the depth, or lack of it.

Back to the harbour in one piece and we were putting the fenders on when graeme dropped his overboard. He says the rope came undone but I have my doubts. Things just tend to happen around graeme like dropping his outboard motor overboard ... in front of a restaurant full of people ... but that is another story.

Tried to recover it several times unsuccessfully so anyone that comes sailing with me, be warned. Do not, I repeat, do not fall overboard as I have not yet mastered the art of recovering a body from the water. If you want to end your days, by all means fall overboard. I am quite adept at running right over the object in the water but getting it out. Blogger it. Damn fender. To make things worse, the others were getting impatient and evicted me from the helm which darkend my already dark mood.

Home for supper and a good nights sleep while trying not to slip down the gap between the two beds and end up on the floor. This is one of those things I just can't understand. If one goes to a hotel and books a room for two people why do they give you two single beds. I mean, don't they know why couples go to hotels. If they wanted to sleep in single beds, they would get single rooms.

Sunday morning arrived. Wind 10kts SW, sea 1.0 to 1.5m. Bright sunshine, beautiful smooth sea at least compared to yesterday. Blue/green sea, dolphins gamboling next to the yacht. Sounds idyllic hey. Well, it was! So this is what all the effort was actually for. Absolutely fantastic swanning along at 6kts, what a feeling.

Packed up the yacht and headed back, 7 hours in the car. Saw dead pedestrian just to bring me back to reality. In truth, I don't know if he was dead but he sure looked it. Why people would want to cross a 4 lane highway on foot directly below a bridge is quite beyond me. A little sobering so I drove a bit slower for a while ...

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