I’ve lived in Falmouth for 2 years now and every day I watch the beautiful yachts sail gracefully around the harbour waters. I love being by the water and grew up surrounded by all things nautical; thanks to my dad being an avid (and extremely experienced) sailor! Listening to sea shanties in the car on the way to school was a common occurrence for me with dad at the helm (excuse the pun)!
It is for these reasons why I am extremely ashamed that in my adult life I have forgotten all my sailing skills, I wouldn’t even know my port from my starboard! Terrible! When I was recently asked to tie a fender to the side of a boat, I was totally stumped – how ashamed my dad would be! With this embarrassment came a desire to put things right, it was definitely time to swot up on my knots, train my sea legs and learn to sail again!
Dad was delighted and quickly booked in a father & daughter sailing weekend on board the White Mistral (or Misty as we like to call her). Misty is a 33ft Westerly Ketch (I think I got that right), a beautiful yacht moored at Cobbs Quay in Poole Harbour, which dad has the use of thanks to his friend David.
Our sailing weekend came around quickly and I’ll admit I didn’t feel very prepared. I hadn’t looked at the knot book dad had lent me or done any other sailing research but I did have my Seasalt waterproof jacket, sailor shirts and hoodies so I thought I would definitely look the part if nothing else!
It was strange that once on board I felt a lovely sense of familiarity, most probably from my time sailing as a child. It was also lovely to watch my dad in his element, he really comes alive when on a boat and he was so excited to teach me everything he knew.
After eating a takeaway down in the galley with Dad & David on the Friday, I bunked down for the night in my little cabin, bumping my head a few times on the way!
We rose early on the Saturday and after a bit of a safety talk we headed out into the harbour to practise manoeuvring the boat under motor, just to get the feel of how Misty operates. This was a fantastic exercise in observation; considering what the wind and tide were doing as well as what other boats were doing around us, so much to think of at once! Dad gave me the task of approaching a buoy and coming to a complete stop next to it, not an easy task but I mastered it pretty quickly and prompted my dad to joke with David, “Don’t think we’ll bring her again!!”, but whispering to me, “You did great! You’re a natural!” .
In the afternoon we headed out of the harbour into open sea to have a go at proper sailing, getting the sails up and trying my hand at tacking. It was a beautiful day with a steady wind – perfect conditions! After getting over the initial panic of pulling the right ropes, winching the sail tight and dodging the swinging boom, I was really getting into it all! I loved the feeling of being powered by the wind with no motor noise and just the sound of the water rushing by. Amazing!
Life on the water is extremely therapeutic, you don’t have much time to trouble your mind with everyday worries, you are totally focused on what is happening on-board, what the wind is doing and where you’re headed. It’s scary, calming and exhilarating all at the same time! By the end of the day I was left feeling comfortably tired and totally de-stressed – topped off by a rewarding beer back at the Quay!
I totally ‘get’ why so many people love sailing and now understand why nearly everyone down in Falmouth owns a boat of some sort! I realise I am incredibly lucky to live by the water plus Falmouth is so beautiful and rich in nautical culture. I would definately urge all that haven’t done so yet to get out on a boat and give it a go!
Needless to say…I loved my sailing weekend and I shall be back out on the water as soon as I can for my next lesson – there’s so much to learn!