Sunday, September 29, 2013

Note to Jen.

Jen, you make me laugh. As a matter of fact our lives are filled with laughter more times than not. I always smile a little to myself when I hear you tell other cruisers that you are not really an experienced sailor. I beg to differ, and I would like to remind you of some of your achievements. I have verbalised them to you to no avail, so perhaps if I write them down, you and others will realize how experienced you really are.........

Our first boat Anembo was a Compass 28. It was a small but sturdy little yacht. You helped me sail it between Jervis Bay, Ulladulla and Batemans Bay many times. You always felt a little sick but you were there to help and give a hand any time you were needed. You must remember that the south coast of NSW is the Tasmen Sea. Ask any of our sailing friends who have circumnavigated, or are in the process of circumnavigating and they will all agree that it's the worst bit of coastline they have encounted.

Crazy Lady, our next boat was a South Coast 36. We found her in sad decline when we purchased her. We both rebuilt her from the bones up. You were always there with encouragement and suggestions, and never afraid to get your hands dirty doing a project. Crazy was in such good condition when we eventually sold her. She achieved the highest price of any South Coast 36 at that time, and all of course with your help. Meanwhile you managed to get our four kids through matriculation, no mean feat!!

I also forgot to mention at the same time that you also attained your Coxans Certificate at Ulladulla Tafe. You came first in the navigation course, in a class full of men including yours truly.

We both sailed Crazy Lady up and down the NSW Coast but your greatest achievement was sailing Her across Bass Strait. Remember how sick I got. You nearly sailed halfway across solo while i was in a "coma" down below. I have copied the essay you wrote after that adventure to remind you of your courage and fortitude.

A Country Girl at Heart.

"I was staring through the lifelines at the water rushing past the side of Crazy on our way towards Eden. I had became aware that the ocean was undergoing a definite change in character. Was it was becoming more viscous?

Previously I had noticed that the watery -play - grounds of some of the pristine areas that we had visited further north were light, splashy, enticing, happy and almost playful. A holiday mood. A frolic. No real fear of being "lost" and "out of sight" if someone should fall in.

The waters nearer Eden (Twofold Bay) looked more serious, thicker and official.

I thought about the bloody slaughter of whales and the fragile men perched in their open timber vessels; of the dead. I felt sad, and vaguely worried. We had brought the grey skies with us. "It's just some rain" I thought, knowing that supplying and refueling of the yacht would now be much more awkward. But even at this anchorage in this still area, the clear waters were a darker turquoise than I expected. A "wolve in sheep's clothing" as if trying to imitate the fancy colour of a memory that was once known and now corrupted by time.

If I knew the earth to be flat, this water felt like the edge of the known world.

The changes became more significant as Gabo Island finally passed and land moved away. I could now see exactly why these waves troubled me.They were short and abrupt, crisp navy in colour with visible intense detail. They were without contamination of light or debris.They were the guards of the seas ahead. They were a military force and we were in their zone.I could define the border as we sailed through the check point.These seas meant business.No games, no laughter, no frivolity, and no good times.The white caps on their crests were clean cut and vivid, and did not integrate with the blue below.

I watched the land slip away and was astonished to note the ordinariness of the trees and cliffs. It had the appearance of a poorly worked landscape, a lazy artist who had smudged olive green and rust brown into the background by using a careless blending of the thumb.

I lay down in the lee-berth inside the warm cabin. I stared at the ceiling. It pulsated for a second or so. Was this a panic attack?. I calmed my mind. We were about to sail over a very angry strait of ocean that had claimed thousands of lives. Out of the sight of land.

The next time on deck the ocean surface looked restless, an energy was being held firmly in place by a heavy handed ruler. No wave was individual but all were seething with a bad temper. The depth of this smoldering sea extended thousands of metres below our boat. I found a childlike comfort in focusing my vision on the rectangular frame of the lifelines, but not beyond.

The landing of the fog around Crazy Lady came as a comfort. Bland weak wet grey mist everywhere. I could now easily deny the existence of all the outer watery unknowns. I was happy to be in this dangerous state of total denial, a good but bizarre place to live.

The calm waters of the fog looked thick, limp and oily. They irritated me. They seemed so fake. I knew they wouldn't last. They meant something else was on the way. The fog lifted and the bland disappeared. I was bashed all night long on the nose of Crazy. A southerly that was not forecast had intruded into my night watch and as helmsman I was on trial. This was not a time to call for Glenn's help. I needed to prove myself worthy enough to commit this trespass. Determination, and protectiveness of my crew just kept me at the wheel.

I came on deck in the daylight. The water's surface was now firm and alive, fit and active and very muscular. There were no longer any mindless threats by waves out of sheer spite. Flinders Island had been sighted. A friendly coast guard had called us by name. We were in the substantial Tasmania waters, strong in body and robust.

I'm beginning to relax a little now. In writing this I'm trying to make some sense of all of these new raw sensations. It's been a bit hard for a country girl at heart."


You have just helped me sail ST3 from Sydney to the Whitsunday Islands, and you are an integral part of the team. I couldn't have done it without you!!!!!

So Sydney to Hobart, Sydney to Whitsundays. "Not experienced"!! Jen, sorry but I don't believe you. If others hear Jen say it, please remind her of what she has achieved.

And the next time I hear you say that sort of thing please don't mind if I strangle you.



1 comment:

  1. What a gal! Nice post, nice essay, nice tribute.
    Forgotten how I found your blog but enjoy following you. We've been sailing the Med, though not in our own boat, that's yet to come.
    Some adventures are around the post of
    All the best guys,
    Have fun