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Sailing and the art of time management

Well, it had to happen sometime; I knew I wouldn’t be able to put it off forever. So a few weeks ago I succumbed to the inevitable and made my first trip out on the boat this year.

And how did I manage to make it to July without going on the water?

Blame it mostly on the Scottish Series, which kept the Sailing Fanatic pretty well preoccupied up until the end of May. But with that challenge over, he set his sights on the next one. Me. I knew I was in trouble a week later, when he came chasing after me with a glint in his eye and a calendar under one arm.

I was ready – I’d done some serious calendaring of my own, as he discovered once he’d cornered me in the kitchen and flicked through June in dawning dismay.

'How many parties do the kids need to go to?' he demanded. 'It looks like there’s two a week ‘til Christmas! They have a better social life than we do!'

Tell me about it!

But there was one window of opportunity and – weather depending – a tentative trip to see the boat was pencilled in for Sunday 25th June.

The big day dawned. The sky was blue, the sun was shining, and there was quite a breeze blowing. I watched the trees tops whipping about, the clouds zipping past and the growing resignation on the face of the Sailing Fanatic.

It was too windy.

We went over to the boat anyway. There is, I have discovered, always something to be done on the boat, whether it be wiping the mildew off the cabin walls, pumping the bilges, or carrying out one of the finer points of engine maintenance. Normally – see Rule 7 of the Reluctant Sailor’s Sailing Guidelines – I leave all that sort of thing to the Sailing Fanatic, but on this occasion, and particularly as the wind appeared to be dropping, I decided to carry out a thorough clean of the two forward cabins.

By the time I had finished the wind had pretty much disappeared and I had pretty much run out of excuses. Perfect timing! We went sailing. I went sailing – helming all the way round Cumbrae on a beautiful summer’s evening.

Or not so perfect timing. I had forgotten about the land breeze that develops sometimes in the evening. It started to fill in as we were halfway round Cumbrae and then, just as we were nearing the marina, hit us with 25 knots of wind.

White knuckles. Shaking legs. Engine on. Sails down. Take me home now!

It took a while for me to recover – about as long as it takes to get home, crack open a bottle of wine and down the first glass. The Sailing Fanatic said nothing until we were several glasses in and I had mellowed considerably. Then he picked up the calendar.

'So!' he said brightly. 'What shall we do in July…?'

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