A few days ago I wrote about my new-found enthusiasm for training with the guys who sail Lasers on Tuesday evenings in Bristol.
This week on Tuesday there was thunder rolling around the bay and rain in the the forecast which totally dampened my new-found enthusiasm for training with the guys who sail Lasers on Tuesday evenings in Bristol. So I wimped out and went sailing by myself on Bristol Harbor on Wednesday afternoon instead.
There was an old dude wearing an Army Veteran cap who came across to talk to me as soon as I pulled into the parking lot. He had an old day sailer on a trailer and he proudly informed me that he was sleeping in the van parked in front of the boat. He asked me to go over and admire the boat name graphic, FREE BEE, he had just constructed out of black electrical tape on the side of his boat. I looked to see if he had put the name on the other side of the boat. No, not yet. He had run out of tape. I asked him if he was taking his boat out sailing, but he muttered something about needing to repair a hole in his hull. He then started dropping hints about needing "donations" so I told him that we all needed donations these days and beat a hasty retreat to rig my Laser.
He came across again a few minutes later and asked if I had been there last night. No, on account of the thunder, I explained. He said that there had been three Lasers there on Tuesday evening and they sailed "way out there" as he waved an arm in the general direction of Bermuda. Damn, I should have gone. Four would have been a good practice group.
My new friend then asked me what my sail number was. This was a little strange because it was written in large on both sides of the sail which was now hoisted. After I had repeated the number three times, he then proceeded to write it down. No idea why. Maybe it's like train spotting with him. Or maybe he has a laptop with WiFi in his van and he's going to look up my racing results online.
Eventually I managed to break away and launch my Laser and enjoy a most rewarding solo sail in a hiking breeze on a sunny afternoon (with no thunder.) I practiced a whole bunch of stuff but mainly lots of simulated racing starts. I figured that starts are the weakest part of my game right now, so I practiced holding position on an imaginary start line, then bearing away, accelerating and sheeting in for a fast start. Then I would sail flat out for a couple of minutes as I imagined trying to hold my lane against a whole bunch of imaginary friends. It's funny. I always have great starts when I'm sailing with my imaginary friends.
One of my non-imaginary Facebook friends, SAILFIT, Inc, had posted a most excellent piece of advice for Wednesday: When sailing upwind focus mostly on the water, not your tell tales. Keep your gaze two lengths forward and one to windward. So I concentrated on doing that too. Very Zen-like after a while.
When I had had enough and sailed back to the beach, my new non-imaginary veteran friend was showing off his electrical tape boat name to some other guy he had managed to buttonhole. My "friend" later came over and asked me where I live. When I told him Tiverton he said that he didn't think the waterside parking situation in Tiverton was as good as Bristol and that I should seriously consider buying some waterfront property in Tiverton and constructing a parking lot.
One of the most rewarding things about sailing is the people you meet...