The sea has always held a certain fascination for me and it’s long been one of my dreams to try my hand at sailing.
I did have a quick go crewing a 2-man dinghy one afternoon last summer (or possibly the summer before – I lose track of time), which served to whet my appetite further.
Last night I got my second opportunity to sail – this time as part of the crew of a 30′ (or so) racing yacht called Mikki Finn. We were racing up at Holyhead, where she is usually berthed, and we came fourth out of seven in the race. Considering it was my first time ever sailing on a yacht, the third time for one of the other crew members and the first time out this year for the remaining two (as the boat has been ashore for repairs since the end of last season), that was not at all bad going.
My opportunity to sail Mikki Finn came because my friend Luke has been crewing her for several years now and was recently looking for someone to give him a hand with some of the aforementioned repairs. I jumped at the chance and found myself a few weeks ago helping to refit the forestay, which led to an invite from the skipper, Mark, to join the crew. Last week I went back to help again and the essential repairs were finished earlier this week, so she was able to go back in the water on Tuesday and be ready to race last night (there are still a few more repairs to do, but nothing to compromise her sea-worthiness).
Last night, I was mainly responsible for controlling one of the headsail sheets (i.e. the ropes used to control the sail at the front of the boat – the one we were using yesterday was a genoa, which you can look up for yourself if you’re so inclined), which is essentially the same job I had crewing on the dinghy, though in that case I was controlling both jib sheets at once. A yacht, naturally, has much bigger sails and heavier rigging than a dinghy, so there are winches and things to help you and it becomes a multi-person job (at least if there are sufficient crew). A handful of times I also had to run forward and skirt the genoa (i.e. bring the foot of it back inside the guardrail of the boat when it got caught up on the outside of it).
I’m looking forward to going sailing several more times in the coming weeks and increasing my knowledge and skill at nautical procedures.