Sailing can be such a fickle thing, some days you are flying over the water, the boat is sailing like a dream, speed seems effortless and everything is wonderful with the world. Other times it seems that nothing goes right, you just can't settle into the rhythm, the wind plays a devious game of hide and seek - disappearing in the blink of an eye only to re-appear twice the strength from a different direction, and hitherto completely solid bits of the boat break with abandon. I thought I was the only one to be plagued by these sailing inconsistencies. The legions of sailors sporting rugby shirts with the phrase 'Better a bad day on the water than a good day in the office' emblazoned across the back only served to reinforce my opinion. If my good days in the office were so much worse than one of these bad days of sailing, I would most defiantly be considering my career options.
I discussed this with other Mothies and discovered that I am not alone. At last, others who could understand that it is possible to have a bad day on the water. Conversation came to just what leads to these 'bad days', surely if we know what causes them, we can take action and ensure every day is a belter. Bad day causes along the lines of; when the water temperature is below five degrees, when you have to break ice off the boat in order to rig or when you can only squeeze in 25 minutes of sailing before the sun goes down, I expected. But I was wrong, we all agreed that some of our best sails have been in just these circumstances. When passers by look at you strangely as you rig, and walk away shaking their heads in disbelief that anyone could want to go sailing in the prevailing conditions; and probably adding the coastguard to their speed dial just in case. What I was surprised to discover was the myriad of bad day precursors held by the fleet, some with almost religious zeal. Whether it was finding your GPS has run out of battery, the boom pin requiring the help of a rigging mallet to be inserted or my personal nemesis, having a right old battle getting the mast up. Everyone had their own sign that today might not be a good day. Why these insignificant and irrelevant things should have such an effect on a day on the water seems strange. Can they really have such an effect on us that we let a self fulfilling prophecy of unease and negativity pervade our sailing? Is our otherwise perfect day of sailing doomed unless rigging goes perfectly according to plan?
I put this throughly to the test today. The breeze was a perfect 12kts, not too windy but definitely enough. The sun was out, everything was good, sail went on to the mast easily, the cams slipped happily into position, I popped the mast up. Except I didn't, as soon as I started to lift it, it was grabbed by and invisible force and thrown back down again. I tried again, same result. I tried four more times, same result. I moved the boat into a more sheltered location - same again - arrgh! How on earth was I going to manage to sail after this? Surely I was now certainly doomed to have the very essence of the proverbial bad day. As there was no one around to give me a hand getting on the water at all looked decidedly unlikely. What could I do? As with the tenth capsize on a short downwind leg, I decided the only real option was to pull myself together and get on with it. This time it worked. I finished rigging, launched and had one of my best sails. Does that means the mast lifting curse is broken? Could it be that I had been imagining it all along?