A couple of months ago, a friend and colleague encouraged me think about joining the Nestlé Sailing Club. He was doing it as a way to learn something new while living in Switzerland. Plus, it’s a good excuse get out of the office at a reasonable time on some summer nights. The club has sailing lessons two nights a week using a small boat dock just a few steps away from the office. At the time, I was a bit overwhelmed with work, but I’m always up for trying something new. I thought this could be a fun distraction. And after all, when else was I going to have access to sailing lessons so cheaply and easily? Not to mention that it seems like a must when living on such a huge lake.
Three months later (today), I finally found the time to make it to my first lesson. The friend who instigated all of this hadn’t made it to any lessons yet either, so today was a first for both of us. When I arrived, the instructor asked me about myself. My answer? “Well, I’ve never been on a sailboat before.” Good start, right? He said he wasn’t sure if we would get into the water, because it was quite rough. My first time making it to a lesson, and we aren’t going into the water? That would be disappointing.
While we waited for the weather conditions to improve, I got the Sailing for Dummies lesson about the various wind directions on the lake as well as an explanation of everything available in the supply lockers. We prepared one of the boats to go on the water and put on our mandatory life jackets. Ready or not, here we go! The instructor, my friend, and me in a little dinghy.
Right before we went out on the water, my friend jokingly asked what I had for lunch. I instantly panicked, because I get motion sickness in / on EVERYTHING that moves! How did I not think about that? I could’ve taken medicine! I suppressed the panic by telling myself, it can’t be that bad.
As we climbed into the boat, one of the other helpers told me no sandals next time. (Mind you, this man was sporting a t-shirt tucked into spandex shorts and water shoes.) No sandals? They are the perfect thing to wear when you’re going to have wet feet! Oh well, at least I didn’t opt for the nautical dress option my girlfriends & I discussed on our walk earlier this week!
As if risk of sea sickness, rough waters, and the wrong shoes weren’t enough, I also found out I couldn’t bring my phone (which is my camera)! How was I supposed to document this experience?! But, apparently the risk of capsizing is so high that you don’t bring phone, keys, etc. Already at four strikes, and I just stepped into the boat!
We made it out into the water, and new worries set in. Have you ever been on a dinghy? It leans pretty drastically. My instructor was not phased by this. He talked about leaning back, working your abs, and moving to a different side of the boat. Meanwhile, my toes and fingers were gripping the boat for fear of falling out. Within a couple of minutes, I calmed down (kind of).
We were learning all of the ways to steer the boat into the wind, so sometimes it was calm, slow sailing, and other times we were beating the boat into the waves. We practiced tacking and a few other maneuvers. I was working the front sail, so I had responsibility for two cords. I didn’t fully understand when to pull or why, but I’m good at following instructions, so I managed to hold my own.
Now, the thing I should tell you is that within no time, I was seasick. It was worse when we were pounding through the choppy waves, but once you become seasick, it doesn’t really go away. Thank goodness, I didn’t lose it, but I came REALLY close at least three times. I wasn’t talking much, because I was fully concentrated on keeping my lunch in my stomach. I hoped I was hiding it, but I’m pretty sure I was turning a horrible shade of green. If my instructor noticed, he didn’t say anything. I was happy to get back on land, but I have to say that even a couple of hours later and a sleeve of crackers, I’m still a little woozy. Next time, I will remember to take my Bonine in advance!
I think it’s too soon to decide whether or not I want to try it again (while medicated, of course). It is definitely way more challenging and a lot more work than the picture I had in mind. I was telling my friend about it afterward. When I told her about the no sandals rule, she said that I needed a pair of Sperry’s. My response, “I think I need a yacht instead.”