~~The title to this post is a joke in our family regarding an old wooden ruler which I kept from my elementary school days. On the back, in my massive, eight year old hand I had written in red marker: “Chrissy the great.” I’ll confess I never received good marks for my handwriting and I had trouble with penmanship all through school. Talk about red marker! I saw a lot of it in third grade from the teacher during penmanship exercises. Circles I did well, but the M’s and W’s? Oh and those pesky P’s and B’s. When I entered High School I finally dumped the idea that I must persist with cursive and took up printing which gave way to my own, interestingly unique style – mostly an improved, legible script. I come by this deficiency naturally however, and I guess this is one minor attraction which I had to my mate – his hand-writing pretty much mirrors mine. He just spends more time on it. No, actually his is prettier. Both our boys were blessed with these genetics too, so much so, we bought our oldest an Alpha Smart in middle school to spare his teachers from pulling out their hair – hair which they really could not spare anyway. Alasdair has fairly good penmanship which is remarkable as he is a lefty growing up with right-handed parents.
The above is a lengthy prologue to a story which has nothing to do with handwriting except that I lived through the experience and I am here to tell the tale.
I have not mentioned much about our sailing adventures. We have been so occupied with visiting family and my Mom’s shoulder surgery that we’ve only had Seashell out once this month. However, about two weeks ago we launched the sailboat up at Lake Mary Ronan. This lake is usually quite calm but during our efforts to raise the sail offshore, the wind started gusting in a frightful way. We were carried out to starboard immediately heading for the opposite side of the Lake, with the keel cable humming – meaning we were moving at a fairly good clip. The rising gusts of wind became disconcerting, to say the least, and we decided perhaps we’d better turn and head back to the dock. Now that proved to be easier said than done.
After about four attempts at tacking to the opposite shore, (you remember that oh so distant shore where the dock is?) I suddenly became aware that Aly was down in the cabin with his head in his hands looking very green and disturbed. We had been thrown around for the last hour, quite violently by the wind and the waves, and our attempt to turn the boat without tipping too far over was not getting us anywhere. He was nervous about the way our expedition was progressing, and besides the whole ordeal was making him queasy. I distinctly heard him mutter: “I don’t want to go like this.” I coaxed Alasdair to stand up and face towards the bow. That seemed to help him a lot. The wind was certainly fresh enough.
Then I sat down at the tiller, wrested it from my poor husband’s sweaty grasp and took over. I commanded him: “Don’t you dare touch the tiller; just keep the lines secure.” He couldn’t manage everything in conditions like this; I had to do something definitive and I had to do it now. The wind gusts were terrific but I quickly learned that if I filled the sail for a bit headed toward leeward, then I could redirect Seashell back the other way and still keep up our momentum. In short, I was using the gusty conditions to our advantage without getting blown off course. Shortly we were opposite the dock but still a fer piece out on the water. Our valiant journey ended with a final, violent gust of wind from the side which sent us spinning and tipping madly. With our sheets flapping in the wind I held onto the downed sail and we made it back safely with Matthew oaring with all his might towards the dock. We couldn’t get out onto that dock fast enough. Our little boat kept us safe; we made it!
Later that day we heard on the news that the gusts had peaked at around 55 mph. Not only were we out in dangerous conditions but it was almost one of the most difficult sailing situations for anyone, not just beginners, because the wind was blowing us too fast toward a lee shore. After we hauled the boat out of the water and our hearts stopped wildly beating within our seafaring breasts, Alasdair paid me the biggest compliment I’ve ever had as a Mom. “Mom, you are a natural! You got us back! Good job.”
1. Check the weather forecast. Especially the parts labeled “wind”.
2. It’s quite possible to get “3 sheets to the wind” without drinking.
3. There’s a reason sailors are known for their cussing. Probably several reasons.
Wow. Avast, me hearties. Just wow.
(Thanks to Matthew for editing my sea-faring jargon.)