Monday, 5 May 2008

Sailability wOOt!

Let me quickly take you back a few weeks... the last Sailability event for this season.

I'm glad I hadn't gone back to Matt's place after our first gig the night before. Otherwise trying to get up at 7am with a hangover wouldn't be a veryexciting prospect, to say the very least. The weather was looking promising - a little cloudy, but predicted light to moderate winds made for a good days sailing ahead. I scrabbled together my sailing clothes, threw them into the car boot (trunk), and headed out to Ben Chifley Dam at about 8.15am.

Rounding the corner as I got to the dam, the sight of early-morning mist back lit by the rising sun slowly hovering over the calm waters took my breath away. I took a few photos, but at moments like that I wish my little 'point-and-shoot' camera had a good zoom on it. I couldn't really grab a good shot of the amazing natural lighting effect that was taking place right across the surface of the dam. It truly was one of those 'stop and stare in wonderment' type of moments, jaw agape and everything. The mist was hovering across the surface of the water, in small swirling eddies in the practically-still air. The sunrise caught the mist with an almost supernatural glow. Beautiful to behold.

I sat and waited for the others to arrive. They were towing the Sailability boats all the way from Carcoar Dam. I didn't have long to wait, sitting back enjoying the refreshing invigoration of early-Autumnal morning sun beside the water. Oh yes, it really was a beautiful place to be in right at that moment - I knew and totally appreciated my surrounds.

Mr Hoon and two young volunteers - one being Luke who I hadn't seen for ages, unfortunately - quickly helped unload the boats and started rigging them. Enjoying the boyish silliness that quickly envelopes Mr Hoon and myself whenever we seem to get together, Goon show and Python bits were flying left right and center across the lake's edge.

The wind was almost totally calm at this stage, and we thought it'd be a day of just drifting about in the boats. Thankfully just as the first disabled sailors arrived with their carers, the wind picked up to a light breeze, just enough to make for a really pleasant day out on the water for everyone.

In the end, the eleven people who came to be taken out for a sail had a wow of a time. It was really quite special only having such a small number, because we were able to take people out for much longer rides, and give them a really good turn out on the water. In four hours, I took five people out for a sail! It was a great mornings' sailing.

The second-last person I took out was a wheelchair-bound lady, who really loves coming sailing, but (between you and me) remains pretty clueless about it all when she's out there on the water. Not to worry. She's an absolute delight, and has a really willing, gentle and teachable heart. She's always open to hearing some advice and being shown how and why boats and sails work together. Really nice to have someone like that out with you.

While we were out, the wind suddenly piped up to about 30 knots - that's pretty darn strong, between you and me. Especially after most of the morning it was sitting on a quiet steady 5 knots.

Kathy learned heaps as I talked her through sailing in stronger winds. She was steering the whole time, while I operated the sheets (ropes) for the sails. Basically, I was showing her how in the stronger winds, these types of little boats like to just sail under their jib/headsail alone. So I was showing her again and again how I was anticipating a strong gust of wind, and easing the sail just as it hit us. That was we were able to keep relatively upright, and keep moving thru the water with some good speed and maneuverability. She was totally getting into it.

Mind you, the whole time, she was whooping with absolute joy! Wind and spray in her face - she didn't mind, not one second!

Precious treasured moments. That's why I do this, you know?

After about 45-minutes out, we headed back in time for a anticipated quick bite to eat. The next person who wanted to go out was Scotty, who I've spent plenty of time on the water with. We sailed together in the Access State Titles in Belmont last year, so we got on like a house on fire, like old mates. He's a younger bloke who's wheelchair bound, but he has the most-wicked sense of humour - that's why we get on so well. Plus he's a damn fine sailor. When he's sailed in regattas on his own, he's won gold medals. He's eligible to go to the Paralympics in Beijing this year too!

But Scotty is fan-bloody-tastic to go out sailing with, simply because - he absolutely loves it!

We were out for about an hour together. He was steering (as best as he could... normally when he's on his own he sails these amazing 'Servo' boats that use a motorised joystick, that operate both the steering and the sail! Amazing stuff), while I operated the sheets - just like we were doing at Belmont together. The wind was still really quite stiff at this stage too, but we had a whooping good time together. He's another one of these young people with a really teachable, humble spirit, who takes in everything you tell him about sailing. While I'm showing him about working the sails, anticipating the wind gusts, to keep the boat moving efficiently, he's taking it all in. Not that I'm some amazingly awesome sailor - I'm not. But I know how it all works, and make sure people have a great time.

My most precious moment I had with Scotty was racing with him at Belmont last year. The first race together, I showed him to how basically 'park' the boat just behind the starting line, for a really nice start for the race. 30 minutes later just before the start of the second race, without me telling him or any prompting on my behalf at all, he did exactly the same thing - but his was even better than mine! A really great starting position. Just a delight to be sailing with.

This Sunday we were sailing all around the place out on Ben Chifley Dam, trying different runs and sailing positions. It was like one huge practice for him. I didn't have to do much... we kinda work well together as a sailing team.

Plus we just keep each other breaking up with laughter all the time. Silly stories and jokes flying about... lots of fun.

Eventually we had to come in. We were soaked... not from capsizing or anything like that (it's 99% impossible to capsize, let alone sink, one of these boats! Seriously!), but from all the spray. He knows which side and which course (angle to the wind) to sail to ensure that I cop facefulls' of spray from my side, the cheeky bastard! But I wouldn't have it any other way. It's really is the most refreshing feeling, having wind-whipped spray scatter across your face out on the water in a small boat.


Everybody had a great day out. The other two young guys who were volunteer sailors (such as myself) took out quite a few people a few times as well. It was just one of those really nice days together.

Even packing up was not a chore. Sometimes it's a bit of a drag putting everything away properly after a big days' sailing. This time we all got stuck in, and before we knew what had happened, we'd run out of things to put away onto the trailers! Mind you, the amount of silly laughter that was being tossed around surely helped proceedings. heh heh.

So, in a nutshell, "A good time was had by all!"

Twas such a fine way to finish the Sailability season together.

And an end to one of the best weekends I'd had in a few months. Spent some quality time with my sons, then played a gig, then went sailing.


Mind you, I slept soundly that night, for some strange reason...

The next day, I met Mr Hoon out at Carcoar Dam Sailing Club, so we could put the boats away properly for the winter, into the newly-concreted shed.

The wind was absolutely - howling! Thankfully it wasn't like that the day before... while the Sunday ended-up quite 'brisk' at times, the Monday was just short of a gale!

What we thought would take the two of us about two hours, was all over and finished after one. Packing things away in some sense of order (well, something resembling order! lol) and covering them up for the coming winter. So, having an hour to sit down over some sandwiches and just catch up and chat chat chat was precious. We went back into Blayney (about a 10-minute drive from where the Sailing Club is), and sat in a nice cosy cafe and ate a bit and talked a whole lot.

Mr Hoon is good like that. We 'connect' in a way like we're like brothers in a funny way. We can talk and really share stuff with each other that's truely refreshing. Even tho we don't see each other all the time, when we do it's like we only just finished talking together. Conversations pick up straight from where they last finished. It's really beaut!

Plus he has the same wicked, warped sense of humour as me, so... lots of harmless happy laughs ensue whenever we get together.

Sailability Central West was feautured on one of our local TV news programs early this year. I've got a DVD-copy of it, and I've been trying to post it on YouTube (or whatever), so that people can see what we're all about. But, being the knucklehead that I am somedays, I can't seem to upload it properly. I've copied it the wrong format or something? I'm not sure, to be honest.

However, as soon as someone around here (who knows about these things) can figure out how to achieve putting it online successfully, I'll post the link here, so people can see for themselves what Sailability actually does with people. It's a bloody good 4-minute feature, even if I do say so myself.
I'm enjoying blogging at the moment - as if you couldn't tell.
Peas be with ewe

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  1. That sounds like so much fun Mal. And thanks too I learnt that a sheet was a rope, and not a sail, (duh), you could see I could be dangerous to sail with, not knowing the terminology.

    Three sheets to the wind, now takes on a greater degree of meaningful meaning, not that I'm ever. I'm still having trouble with the idea of sailing so far inland.

    Some days are diamond! May there be many more diamonds.

  2. Sounds like a fantastic day all round!

  3. Wow - looks like a great time. But, I have to say - I'd be pretty dumb out there myself. I don't know a thing about sailing. Put me behind a motorboat anytime.

  4. Just lovely. Not just the enjoyment of the water but the sharing it with others.

  5. You can tell when your having an up write with such detail, it's almost like i went sailing with you.
    your sailing and your music and your boys always keeps you in the positive.
    I learned how to canoe last summer, so sailing will have to be on the agenda down the line? ya think? think i will leave that to you!

  6. Awesome stuff Mal, we loved it when we used to go sailing on Albert PArk LAke here in Melbourne, we used to take our boys when they were younger, then we had the girls and well, life got very busy.
    It kaes me want to do it again and I am sure the kids would not say no to that!