Apparent Wind was there. Center of Effort was there. Even the blogger formerly known as Litoralis was there. And, of course, Proper Course, was there. It was like a Laser sailing bloggers' reunion.
What was this auspicious occasion? Not some grand regatta at a swanky yacht club? No. Just Saturday afternoon informal Laser racing and practice at Lake Massapoag in Massachusetts, also once known on this blog as Lake Whippersnapper.
Regular readers of this blog will know that Litoralis is my son. And he hadn't been Laser sailing since that infamous day two years ago in Portsmouth when some Bastards! stole our dolly wheels while we were out sailing. In fact he hasn't even got around to replacing those dolly wheels yet. I've missed not sailing with him but I do understand. He has a demanding career and a growing family and, at this stage in his life, it's more important for him to be a good husband and a good father than to be sneaking off every weekend to go sailing with me.
I've tried to tempt him to join me. And last weekend my three-pronged strategy finally succeeded. The three prongs were...
- Make it easy for him. Massapoag Lake is close to my son's home so he only needed to be away from his family for an afternoon, not a whole day.
- Solve his dolly wheel problem. The guys at Massapoag told me they would lend him a dolly.
- Emotional blackmail. When my son's wife asked me what I wanted for my birthday this month, I shamelessly played the "sad old grandfather" card and said (in a sad quaking voice) that all I really wanted for my birthday was for my son to come sailing with me again, gulp, sob, gulp, sob.
It worked. So on Saturday afternoon we joined the group at Massapoag for a spot of Lasering. There were lots of short races. Some college kid from the lake won most of the races, although I was a close second to him in some of the races. My son was hanging in there, not doing too badly considering his two year sabbatical from Laser sailing.
It was towards the end of the afternoon that I noticed that there was a water-ski boat, with a man and woman on board, hanging out about three-quarters of the way up the course and the skier appeared to be taking a rest in the water. I was slightly annoyed that they were just sitting there in the middle of our course but mentally planned how to sail the beat to avoid going anywhere near them. I suspect most of the sailors were doing the same.
I was out near the starboard tack layline when I saw my son's boat capsize out of the corner of my eye. Ha ha. Must have been trying an extreme roll tack and muffed it, I thought. I rounded the windward mark and started going downwind. My son's boat was still capsized, not too far from the water-ski boat. Hmmm, that's strange. I couldn't see his head in the water near his boat either. That's worrying. Then I heard some shouting and screaming from the water-ski boat and saw my son in the water next to that boat. Everyone stopped racing and sailed over to the water-ski boat.
What had happened was that as my son raced near the water-skier in the water he realized that she was in some distress and that the man from the water-ski boat was actually in the water with her now, and was trying to support her and keep her head above water. My son asked if he needed any assistance and then capsized his boat and swam over to help him support the water-skier who had apparently injured herself in a fall while skiing.
Litoralis's worst fear was that she had some kind of spinal injury and felt that they should help her float in the water until paramedics could be summoned to the scene. But the woman insisted on climbing into the motor boat under her own steam and then, once on board, she started screaming because of intense pains in her chest. Our race committee guy had now motored over to the scene and immediately called on his phone for an ambulance to come to Massapoag Yacht Club. The water-ski boat ferried the patient the short distance to the yacht club and we all sailed in too. One of the Laser sailors, a doctor himself, persuaded the water-skiers not to move the injured woman any more and to wait for the paramedics. The ambulance arrived within a few minutes and the paramedics transferred the water-skier to a stretcher and took her away to hospital. Our doctor friend's initial diagnosis was that he thought she had suffered some kind of chest injury in the fall but that there were probably no serious internal injuries.
Obviously sailing was over for the day so we packed up and went back to my son's house. I told his two elder children Emily (5) and Aidan (3) about how their Daddy had rescued the water-skier, as Owen (1) listened and made happy noises. I may have exaggerated the significance of Daddy's role in the rescue slightly. Now Litoralis is even more of a hero in his kids' eyes than he was already. And quite rightly so.