Sunday, October 03, 2010
My 2nd Dinghy Race: Well That Didn't Go Exactly The Way I'd Hoped It Would.
Goal for my 2nd Dinghy Race Ever, as optimistically posted on Facebook on Friday:
Sail around the buoys the same number of times as everybody else does.
Well, technically I did achieve my goal - but not in the manner in which I'd envisioned doing so. There was a little too much wind for a less-experienced sailor (and also for some of the club's more-experienced gear), a little too much hell broke loose at the same time, and in the end Jim, who usually serves as our Principal Race Officer, decided that with the crew that he had & the wind there was, he wasn't going to be able to keep things sufficiently under control. So he called the race in the end, which means that I made it around the same number of buoys as everyone else, which was Zero Nada Zippo Zilch.
So as I said - technically, yes, I achieved my unambitious little goal. But there was no satisfaction in it at all - and I ended up being taken back to the dock in the ignominious style you see above.
I had had a feeling things were a bit over my level. I actually volunteered twice to switch out committee duty - the guys who were doing it today were better than me & I thought they might have more fun with it than I did. But they said no, I should sail. OK - at first it was fun, although a bit hairy. I wasn't sure how much luck I was going to have actually sailing a set course, but there was some fantastic surfing getting to the course. But then I let things get out of control going downwind (note to O-Docker - Joe is right, zombies CAN'T sail downwind, not in a decent breeze anyways!) & capsized for the first time in a long time.
Note to self: rescue drills, dummy.
As a paddler, I do rescue drills ALL THE TIME. Partly because it's fun & a good way to cool off on a hot summer day, but also to make sure that if I end up in a situation where something goes wrong & a person (me, or anyone I'm with) needs to get back into their boat, the drill is a familiar one.
Why it never occured to me that I should be doing the same thing with the Sunfish is really beyond me. If I had just done one or two capsize drills before lunch on the sailing cruises over the summer, I probably would've up & going again within a reasonable space of time. As it was, it took me an absolute eternity to get the boat rightside-up (including a little bit of a rest break between attempts), and then when I did, I was alarmed to discover that I couldn't get back in. Got my chest up onto the boat but just didn't seem to have the "oomph" left to get the rest of the way. I didn't try for too long - I was pretty close to shore, at that point I think I was already thinking I was in over my head & should probably just throw in the towel & get back to the basin, but we were a way away & I decided that instead of wearing myself out getting back in, I'd swim into shallow water to get myself back in order. I was wearing a wetsuit, I was comfortable in the water, the wind was pushing me that way anyways, so I started slowly swimming the boat to shore.
That was the point at which Jim came over & said I should drop my rig & let him tow back.
For a minute, I did think about saying I wanted to try sailing back - there's the whole get-back-on-the-horse thing, drilled into me through years of riding lessons, and I do think the same thing applies pretty well to boating - but I was also feeling more than slightly shaken (and stupid) about my inability to get myself back in the boat. That was weird & a bit scary.
There's something I've heard experienced paddlers quote as a rule of thumb - that being that when a person is out in conditions that are past what they're used to, once they get knocked out of their boat once, it's quite likely to be all downhill from there, with a lot more capsizes to follow as the person stiffens up & loses confidence.
And I realized that I was in the perfect position for that rule to apply.
So I admitted, "Yes, I'm in over my head today", dropped my rig, handed Jim my towline, jumped back in my boat (I'd made it to the shallow water I'd been aiming for), and quietly took the tow back.
she who takes the tow away
lives to sail another day...
Praying for a more moderate day!