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All hands on deck!

Spring is in the air, despite the snow showers of the past week. The daffodils are starting to bloom, lambs are being born and sailors around the country are listening anxiously to weather reports.

Forget March hares – you can always tell that winter is almost over by the degree of grumpiness afflicting a sailor. It’s a sort of itchy feet syndrome, in which every cold, wintry Saturday is greeted with despair while the mere glimpse of sunshine sends them running frantically out of the door.

Don’t take it personally. It’s a condition known as the 'Back in the Water Syndrome', in which the sailor suddenly realises that the five months he had given himself to sort out his boat over the winter have gone, and he has only three weeks left in which to do everything.

Unfortunately there is no cure. The best thing to do is simply to stand back, ignore the cursing and – this is the important point – keep quiet. If you must laugh at the rising panic shown by your Sailing Fanatic, just chortle quietly to yourself; if you find yourself angry that he is disappearing for the third weekend in a row, leaving you to entertain the kids again, bite back the bitter words; and, if you feel even an ounce of sympathy that he is scrubbing decks in sub-zero temperatures, squash it firmly. Any reaction on your part will result in only one thing – a demand… a call… a plea for help.

I speak from experience here.

My Sailing Fanatic is very excited about the new season. He is going to do the Scottish Series for the first time – and has a crew and accommodation all sorted out. He has practice days listed in the calendar, crew members detailed to sort out the food, the alcohol, the 'Sea Dreamer' t-shirts – he even has flash cards prepared so that everyone knows what they will be required to do. The only thing he is lacking is … a boat!

He is in a bad way. And so is the boat. There is a lot left to do, and not much time left in which to do it – not, that is, if he wants to be in the water in time for the first practice session in early April.

The call has gone out, 'All hands on deck', and, to show willing and moral support, the girls and I agreed to help. I wasn’t quite sure how much help we would be – the current prediction for the girls’ sanding tolerance level is approximately five minutes – but I figured that the marina has a few nice coffee shops and we could always go for a walk along the beach. This would give me Brownie points for helping without any actual work – a win/win situation all round.

I made the mistake of mentioning this to the Sailing Fanatic.

'Don’t worry!' he said. 'I didn’t think the girls would last long. So Mum’s coming along to entertain them. If we work hard we should be able to get the sanding finished!'

Drat, drat and double drat!

Now I’m checking the weather reports too!

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