High Winds

Okay, when I decided on the phrase “Everyday Adventures at Home… Hurrah”, I had in mind some pretty safe adventures; looking at and living life creatively and openly – not adrenaline thrills.  This Saturday, though, I found myself on more of an adventure than I had expected.

It was the last sail of the season – the day when we sail the boat for a couple of hours, from the marina where we keep the sailboat for the summer, to the marina where the boat gets hauled out of the water and stored for the winter.

I’ll admit that, unlike my husband, I am not a natural sailor. I am an active person – I love walking, swimming, and bike riding – but a rather passive sailor.  Maybe that makes me more of a ‘passenger’?  I enjoy sailing as a unique way to connect with nature, for relaxation and fun.

We’ve had our boat for about 6 years. At 22 feet, it is not a huge boat, and one can certainly feel the motion of the water and wind around it.

So, Saturday’s sail started out well enough. Quite promising – a sunny, warm day. It was windy, just enough to keep a quick pace (or so we thought). As we headed out (my husband, a family friend, my son and I), it looked something like this…

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Lovely, right?

Well, it turns out the winds soon grew stronger, at points at least 70 km per hour, with the waves becoming frighteningly high, and jarringly choppy. The boat was leaning sharply, getting slammed every which way.  It was hard to control, and we were getting splashed as the cold water crashed against the deck. All this made it difficult, and dangerous to balance on the bow of the boat in order to raise the sail, and the fabric ripped with the force of the wind, though it was still intact enough to move us forward.

We have been in large waves before, but they were gentle, rolling waves.  Kind of lulling.  Saturday’s waves were sharp, driven by a hard wind, repeatedly lifting us up high and crashing us down.  It was the first time that I was seriously worried that we might come to harm.

Fortunately, between my husband, and a good friend of ours (who often joins us on sails), we managed to reach our destination, unharmed.  My husband took the helm, both literally by steering the rudder, and figuratively by directing our efforts.  Our friend worked the sails and GPS.   My 12 year old son and I helped by being an extra pair of hands – holding the GPS, passing ropes and ties.  Most importantly, we tried to stay calm.

I did manage to take a few, very quick snapshots in between the really scary waves. They were all taken from the same vantage point – I didn’t move – so the horizon changes in the pictures because the water was swelling, and we were rising and dropping, very fast.

Honestly, these pics do not capture the size of the waves, nor how violently they were tossing the boat around. Nor the shrill hisses and howls the wind produced. Nor the deep, straining groans of the wood, as heard from the hull (where I spent a lot of time, both to stay out of the way and to hold on for dear life). I braced myself with my legs and took these quick snapshots from the doorway that goes below deck.

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These pictures were taken from the doorway going down below deck. The boat was slamming up and down fast, with strong winds making it hard to maneuver.

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From a wave this high (above) to a wave that low (below) in what felt like one second, repeated again and again…

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Eventually, we had to insist that my son come down into the hull with me, though he wanted to be out on deck where he felt safer.  He was getting wet, and we didn’t want to chance him falling in the water.  I was more worried for him than for us throughout the ordeal.

Toward the end of the trip, as we struggled to get the sail down, wind flailing it violently, we saw the coastguard heading out to make sure we were okay. I actually felt immense relief. Even though we managed without their help, it was such a reassuring sight. I was grateful to all those brave souls in professions that risk themselves to help others.

By the time we arrived at the harbour, the wind was howling so strongly that it was hard even to walk on the dock. The boats parked in the marina were rocking, some of their cables flying lose in the wind.

In the end, I am happy to report that we are all safe and sound. I don’t exactly regret the escapade, either.  I’ve learned some lessons, and it stretched us, brought out our courage, and tested us. If one sails, I suppose one has to be prepared to accept high winds and learn how to handle them. Some people thrive on that excitement.  Not me.  While I like to step outside of my comfort zone by learning new things or being outdoors, I definitely don’t need that much danger to feel alive.

Still, the unexpected happens.  We had to accept the situation and just do the best we could with the experience we had. My husband had been in a thunderstorm once when he was training to sail, so it was some comfort to know that this was not his first experience with very challenging conditions.  I guess one is bound to encounter difficult weather sometimes, in sailing as in life.  I am really proud of us for pulling through this one.

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Safe at port.

“If we are strong, and have faith in life, and its richness of surprises, and hold the rudder steadily in our hands, I am sure we will sail into quiet and pleasant waters…”

Freya Stark – Brainy Quote

Published by

Carina Spring

Hi! So glad you stopped by my little blog, where I joyfully embrace creativity. Here, at Home... hurrah!, I celebrate the beauty and depth of everyday moments, explore what life has to teach us, and share some of the interesting things I see and learn along the way. Thanks for the visit!

8 thoughts on “High Winds”

  1. Oh my, what a scary adventure Carina!! Staying calm was the best but also the most difficult I imagine. I find the photos most impressive but you probably still feel the rocking of the boat, the winds and rain!
    I used to be good on boats, my husband and I were never bothered by waves and stormy weather ( though we were not on sailing boats) but after a series of earinfections, friends of our took us on a boating expedition in quite adventures weather….I will NEVER mock people again for being seasick!! It is so true..I thought I was dying. Probaly my balance organ in the ears has had some damage.
    But years later, we were invited for whale watching on a zodiac. I was hesitant of course but the ‘captain’ gave me a rubber wristband with a button on it. He said it prevented seasickness by way of pressure on certain nerves. It worked, I was very happy, we saw beautiful whales on the beautiful coast of Nova Scotia!
    Well, I am rambing here;0) Better start the day now with my chores and all. But this was a good post and a good story!!! Thnaks, xo Johanna

    1. Hi Johanna! Great to hear from you. I have also gone whale watching, and agree that it is a beautiful experience. Unforgetable. Yes, I had heard of those bracelets but didn’t know personally anyone who had tried them – until now. It is good to hear they work. I generally don’t have too much of a problem with motion, but chewing on a bit of ginger does the trick for me. I have to say I was happy when we reached the marina. Thanks for the comment, I enjoyed reading it. 🙂 xo

  2. I would not enjoy that in the least! Those pictures are enough to make me feel uncomfortable. Glad you guys made it through okay.

    Also, I wanted to say a great big thank you for always being so supportive, but particularly on our recent post where we interviewed local actors. I know it’s not an inherently interesting piece, but every kind word from strangers meant a great deal to these two as they embark on a new career, and it means a lot to me as well that you took the time to do it.

    1. Thanks, Jay… I was pretty relieved when we entered the marina in one piece!

      Thank you also for the kind words. It was an awesome interview. I actually read it in the morning before work, ran out of time, but enjoyed it so much that I went back later to share the comment.
      Take care and have a good week. I appreciate the visit! 🙂 xo

  3. Arrrr! I be the Ancient Mariner! Yer story reminds o’ the time me ship sailed ’round the Horn! T’was a mighty Tempest!

    Seriously though, I’m glad this was just an exciting story that did not turn into a terrible situation, as it could have. I know Lake Winnipeg can be very treacherous, and rather large ships have been lost, with loss of life (here is a link http://www.redriverancestry.ca/SUZANNE-E.php to one of the worst cases)

    1. HaHa! Ancient Mariner! You make me laugh!

      Though – yes – you are right that it could have ended differently, and that Lake Winnipeg is called an “inland ocean” for a good reason. I will definitely check out that link later today when I have a chance. Thanks for the comment and for the visit. Hope you have a great week!

  4. Dear Carina, What a scare. What you thought would be an ideal sailing day turned out a little differently, though definitely successful in the end. I’m so thankful everyone was ok. And what a memorable experience for your son, to see his dad pull that off. I’m no stranger to sailing, friend. For many years my father owned a sailboat manufacturing company, C.E.Ryder Corporation in Bristol, RI. You may have seen some of his boats out on the water. Sea Sprite and Southern Cross were his most famous lines. Beautiful sleek sailing boats with teak trim. So we had a Sea Sprite ’34 and grew up sailing on the waters surrounding the coast of RI. We never had an adventure quite like yours that I remember, but my dad did for sure. His company used to sponsor a single-handed race to Bermuda every year. Usually about 75 boats would enter and he was always sailing it. I just can’t imagine sleeping below deck while your boat rudder is set. And none at the helm. Crazy stuff. He was brave and knew his sonar and instruments well. Well friend, I’m glad the day had a good ending and you made it safely to harbor….that excitement should last you about a year. Exhale. XOXO

    1. Hi Allie! FASCINATING! Yes – Beautiful boats!! How did your dad become interested in manufacturing boats? After experiencing high winds on a sailboat, I have gained a new respect for people who are able to do those kinds of trips…By themselves!! You really can’t imagine what high winds on a boat are like until you have experienced it. My husband and I did not grow up around boats, so we started to sail once we were well (very well) into adulthood – it was a bit of an experiment. The sailing season is very short here in Manitoba, so we don’t always get out there that many times in a season. I was glad that my husband was able to calmly keep the ship on a steady heading, and that he was able to direct the situation so that we got to our destination without much incident, except the ‘experience’ itself. I was impressed with his ability to handle the boat in such difficult conditions. When he was training, his class (a total of 2 students including him + the instructor) sailed in a terrible storm for hours, and it seemed to me that he enjoyed it a lot more than I would have! Do you ever sail yourself? Anyhow, thanks so much for sharing! Take care and have a great rest of the week. Xo

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