For someone who has been sailing for only two or so years, this really was a quantum leap. Don’t mind if I blow my own trumpet but how many people do you know are capable of taking a boat out and sailing for 10 miles, Taçking and gybing, and get it back in to the marina in one piece? (That question to non-sailors only, please!) OK, so the territory was non-tidal and there was only eight knots of wind, but don’t spoil it for me! In my mind this was a huge achievement, and it happened by accident. Here’s how:
Esper and I had spent the last couple of days back in Yat Lift getting a few minor problems sorted out. Actually, I say minor but the bill certainly didn’t reflect that! Still, the main problem was the shaft so I had two of the mechanics on board when I eventually left Yat Lift that morning. They were aboard for a sea trial to check the repairs they had under taken. What they didn’t tell me till we got on the boat was that they weren’t going to come all the way back to the marina as they had other work to be getting on with! So after a five minute sea trial (with the problem solved) we turned round and I dropped them off at Yat Lift’s pontoon. This was no mean feat since there was a slight wind and it’s all rather shallow, but I confidently pulled off this little manoeuvre and turned the boat round again to point back seawards.
I was on my own and I hadn’t intended to be.
Now, if I’m completely honest I had actually considered a solo sail the night before, but it had been nothing more than a passing thought so when I turned Esper towards Bodrum and looked up at the sky, the thought returned. For the first time ever I was on Esper on my own. The plan had just been to get the boat back in to the marina, in itself a worrying thought doing single-handed, but it occurred to me that this was the perfect opportunity to hoist a few sails and tit around for a couple of hours. Stupidly I hadn’t checked the weather that morning but it didn’t look too bad and if push came to shove I was never too far away from help.
With the blood pumping through my veins at high speed I took a deep breath and started playing with the mizzen. The sail came out too easily, like it had been waiting for my first move. Next was the main, which meant pointing into the wind, holding course and pulling at the furling gear (remember Esper is in-mast). The outhaul and furler slipped out without a problem and as the wind picked up and I turned away the boat leant over and we were in business. The next step was to get the genoa out. This was the sail that was going to get the boat moving and could have presented a real problem but I’d put a reef in the main so I unfurled the head sail to about four fifths of its length, wrapped the sheet round the winch and within thirty seconds I was away!
This was it! It had only taken me ten minutes in total and I was sailing! On my own!! Just Esper and me!!! The feeling was incredible, I was in awe of the situation. I laughed as I thought about a comment one of my first skippers had made to me just two years ago: “If you haven’t learnt sailing by now then you never will”. Ha!
I tacked and gybed my way backwards and forwards, first heading towards Kara Ada and then back towards Bodrum and the castle.
In the meantime, I can sit back and think about today and file the memory under the “massive personal achievements” section. You know, the one that sits along side jumping out of aeroplanes, passing important exams and losing one’s innocence! It’s all a far cry from Ellen MacArthur’s achievements but today I joined the single-handed club, ranked more highly than the mile high one. AND I got Esper back into the marina without a hitch!
I managed to get some video footage of my experience. It’s nothing special though the bicycle strapped to the mast always makes me giggle. The first clip is a high-res version from youtube:
And if that didn’t work for you then try this one from google: