I have been sailing for over 30 years in waters off 4 continents and taken classes from coaches and instructors in all sorts of places. I thought I had seen it all and heard it all. But I was wrong.
I had never heard a sailing coach, out with his class on the water, look at the sky and ask the class - or perhaps himself - "Is that a tornado?"
But it happened on the second day of our vacation at Minorca Sailing this year.
The weather forecast did call for thunderstorms during the day and as we set sail for the morning session of the Advanced Laser Class there were dark clouds in the sky and distant rumbles of thunder. The Minorca Sailing staff were closely monitoring the situation and warned us that the lesson would be curtailed if lightning was seen.
We sailed off to the designated area for our practice in a light northerly. The clouds got darker. The thunder got louder. And then our instructor looked over to the west and said the most unexpected thing… "Is that a tornado"?
I looked over to the west. Everyone in the class looked over to the west. There was this lighter spirally cloud snaking down from the dark cloud towards the ground.
Yikes. I had never seen a tornado before. Never been to Kansas in my life. But it sure looked like a tornado.
It was decided that we should sail back closer to the beach. The thunder sounded louder. Lightning was spotted. It was decided we should sail back to the beach.
The squall hit us just as we hit the beach. Perfect timing.
The rest of the morning was spent in a question and answer session with two of the coaches in which I learned two things I had never heard before - a different twist on a way for spotting start line bias and a different method for pointing high in a Laser when it is tactically necessary.
Sailing is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get. As someone's Mama almost said.
But let me backtrack…
No wait. I first need to explain why I started this post by writing about the morning of the second day of our vacation. Why not start at the beginning?
Blame Doris Kearns Goodwin.
Doris Kearns Goodwin
I was listening to an interview with her on National Public Radio a few days ago and she told of how she started researching for a book about Nelson Rockefeller, who was Gerald Ford's vice-president.
For those whose memory of American history (or scandals from the 70s) is as shaky as mine, you should know that Mr Rockefeller died, as they say, "in the saddle" or to put it another way "in flagrant delicto." Apparently the young lady concerned was one of his aides, Megan Marshack.
What a great way to start a book! Sex, scandal and death!
Anyway, as you know, there's never any sex on this blog and I don't have a death or a scandal to report. So I decided to start this account of my 2014 Minorca Sailing vacation with a tornado.
If Doris Kearns Goodwin can write books in the wrong order then I can do the same in blog posts.
Where was I?
Where am I?
Oh yes. Backtracking in Minorca.
We arrived on Friday evening after an uneventful journey.
We went to the welcome dinner.
I learned some stuff about the RS Aero from one of the instructors.
I started to feel weird over dinner.
In the night I threw up.
In the morning I had a splitting headache and still felt weird.
I didn't sail in the morning.
I sailed a Laser around the bay on my own in the afternoon instead of trying out the RS Aero, because as one of my commenters said yesterday, "The Laser is pretty damn close to the perfect "classic" sailing dinghy. Laser is love, Laser is LIFE!"
After sailing I felt much better.
We went to another welcome party and I learned some more about the RS Aero from another instructor.
The second morning we had the tornado.
On the second afternoon I joined in with the Laser races. There were about 15 Lasers. I had terrible starts but I think I was "second full rig finisher who was not an instructor" in both races. So that's something.
They are going to show some video of the races later this evening so that is bound to be embarrasing.
I know. That last section is a bit boring.
It was a bit like writing about Nelson Rockefeller's work on the Federal Compensation Committee and the Committee on the Right to Privacy.
Nothing about him was quite as interesting as the manner of his death.
Probably the reason that Doris Kearns Goodwin never did get around to writing her book about him, even though she did have a very good idea for the opening.
This post is way too long.
Maybe I should finish it here with a nice picture of a tornado and lightning.
To be honest, today's tornado and lightning were not quite as spectacular as this, but I didn't have my iPhone with me on the boat so you'll just have to make do with this photo I found somewhere on the Interwebs.