Monday, August 11, 2008

Why I Don't Like Sailing

By Karen - while "sailing" in the recent Fireweed Regatta

Why I don’t like Sailing

Reason #1. Wind.

I don’t like wind.

Wind is essential for sailing. Without wind you are, what they call “in irons.” I think that’s pirate talk for sitting in the water on a sailboat going nowhere.

Wind blows. It blows in your face, across your face, and all around your face. It messes up your hair. It blows your hair in your face so that you can’t see anything. It also blows things with it. Wind blows grit and bugs into your eyes so that you have to squint and rub your eyes with your dirty fingers and you still can’t see anything. Its especially annoying if you wear contacts and get grit and other microscopic particles of unknown etiology into your eyes causing the inability to see anything. This is the main reason why I don’t like wind.

In sailing, you are supposed to tell which way the wind is blowing. This is fairly easy to do if the wind is blowing rather strong. However, on a small lake, surrounded by mountains a light wind blows every which way all the time. I seem to be physiologically unable to discern from one moment to the next which way the wind is headed. Some folks say to lick your finger and hold it up in the wind and then you’ll know that the wind is coming from the side of your finger that is cold. All I know is that my whole finger is cold and I still don’t know which way the wind is blowing. So, I try my own method which is equally useless. Lets see, if the grit is pelting my right eye the boat should be blown to the left, but now the boat is turning so the grit is pelting my left eye; has the wind changed direction? Once I get that all figured out its too late and I can’t see anything anyway.

Reason #2. Invisible things.

Wind is an invisible thing unless it is blowing so much grit and bugs that you can actually see its movement. But, that only lasts so long because what the wind is blowing will eventually get into your eyes (reference #1, above).

Another invisible thing in a sailing race, for instance, is the starting line. The starting line is an invisible line between some marker like a buoy and something else. The something else may be something far enough away that you can’t see it what with the wind blowing junk in your eyes.

There are also invisible zig-zags. When people try to teach you the fundamentals of sailing they use paper and pencil or a chalkboard, whatever is handy. They draw arrows to show the wind direction (visible wind!) and they draw some zig-zags. This is to represent the path the boat is taking or the path you are trying to get your boat to go in. But when you get out into the water the zig-zags become invisible.

To me, zig-zags are illogical. I’ve always been taught that the fastest way, or shortest distance, between two points is a straight line. Not a zig-zag line. Sailors make zig-zag lines to get between two points, or bouys or what have you. They call this tacking. They do this on purpose. Give something a purpose and it is no longer illogical. The purpose of tacking has something to do with the wind blowing the wrong way from where you want to go. Heck, if its blowing the wrong way, you just shouldn’t go.

I think they make zig-zags between two points because there’s so much grit in their eyes from the wind that they can’t see anything and have to constantly correct their course.

In a sailing race, all the sail boats go out to a certain point, marked by a visible buoy, and mill about like sheep, making invisible zig-zag lines, and then when they are close enough to the invisible start line someone with a bullhorn counts down to zero and the race has begun.

I have observed that the race itself can be invisible. As soon the bullhorn person says zero, absolutely nothing appears to change in the configuration of sailboats. In any other form of racing there is a significant change in the manner of the things being raced once the race starts. Specifically, that is the people racing or the things being raced suddenly go faster than they had been. In a sailboat race it can take up to as much as 10 minutes for sailboats to cease milling about and start making invisible zig-zags towards another barely visible buoy.

The local sailing club has a race called the Governor’s Cup. I have never seen a governor in attendance at this race, nor have I seen his/her cup. They’re invisible. There’s pirates at the Pirate Regatta (I’ve seen’em), firecrackers at the Firecracker Regatta, and fireweed at the Fireweed Regatta, but no governors.

Once a sailor has located and zig-zagged around all the bouys s/he has completed the race course and now must cross the invisible finish line. You might think that the first sail boat to zig-zag across the invisible finish line would be the winner, right?


The winner is invisible until all the times are recorded and Portsmith numbers are applied. You can’t even cheer because you don’t know who you are cheering for.

Reason #3 Ropes

Yes, I know they are really called lines when they are on a sailboat. You can see lines. You can also see ropes.

You’d think it would be nice to finally work with something you can actually see, but it gets complicated. You can take two identical sailboats and attach the ropes to the sails and guide the ropes around different things in myriad configurations so that one boat operates totally different from the other boat. So, in every boat you get into you have to learn the ropes. (See, the cliché is “learn the ropes” not “learn the lines.”)

And to make matters worse, sailors, finicky little twerps that they are, constantly fiddle with their rope configurations so that what you thought you had once learned isn’t correct anymore and the crew gets yelled at for yanking on the wrong rope that used to be the right rope. Geez!

Or, the color of the rope can be changed. If the blue rope wears out, the intrepid sailor, using sailor logic, will replace it with a red rope, and not tell anyone. So now the crew gets to yell at the sailor for taking the blue rope and/or making it invisible.

Somehow, a sailor just knows what rope is attached to what. The crew would appreciate some labels or at least a legend giving the secret color code, albeit subject to change, before the crew gets into the boat. The crew believes this would eliminate some of the yelling that inevitably occurs when sailor logic and the blinded crew member clash just at the time the wind significantly changes and the sailor must quickly recalculate his/her zig-zags.

So, that’s why I don’t care for sailing. There’s wind, you can’t see anything, and there’s too much yelling.

1 comment:

Cat Sailor Paul said...

VERY funny, Karen!