The days are getting shorter, darker and wetter. Winter has arrived and this year I am not escaping it. Since Daniel's accident we have been staying at George & Ellen's place where he well recovered (except for his right wrist which is still painful when used to much).
And that's where we are going to stay for now, as Guppy isn't much fun in winter on pile moorings and without a heater. I love the warmth in the house, but the walls and the absence of rustling waves against the hull and the tender swinging is getting to me. Daniel is working at a small factory that manufactures cast iron wood stoves and I used the opportunity to drag all of Guppy's floorboards up to the factory to sand them down and revarnish them. That way we get to go to work together :)
Although I do get distracted doing lots of other things as well. Like waving George & Ellen goodbye as they sailed down the harbor onboard their Yacht Winddancer, heading for Fiji. Daniel and I managed to fix the floppy rudder of my Minicat and I thought it would be fun to accompany them along the harbor. And fun it was! There was a lot of wind roaring through the harbor and before I even saw them coming around the first corner I had already capsized. And after that the wind only got stronger and they saw me upside down more often then flying along to catch up with Winddancer again. Once we got out of the shelter from the narrower riverbanks, the waves had built up and sailing such small cat, it felt like I had ended up in a huge storm. It definitely was not build for this sort of adventure. Upwind I would fly into and over the waves. On one occasion I flipped over backwards, with boat and all. That's when I decided to turn around and go back downwind. I waved Winddancer a last goodbye and then flew home. Literally flew home. It was hard to keep the little cat under control even downwind as I had to surf side-ways down the waves in order not to pitchpole. I was holding on to my seat firmly so I wouldn't get launched off - it didn't help. A strong gust made the cat and me flip mid air. After a short flight I landed in the water under the sail - still firmly holding on to the seat, which, at this stage was not attached to the boat anymore… While I was battling under the sail to try to hold onto the piece of triplex with one hand and use the other to free myself from that submerged knotting business - my thoughts wandered back to my early childhood. The first couple of times that I sailed out in my Optimist, dad would sail along me on a windsurf-board. He would capsize the boat in moments when I would least expect it. I often landed under the sail, which was what he wanted, so that he could see how I would react. It was - I realize now - the best preparation that he could have given me for my trip and other adventures. Teaching me not to panic but to think clearly. Of course, since then I have landed under boat, sail or ended up tangled in ropes of little boats so many times that it became almost as normal as actually sitting in the boat.. I had to make many mistakes before being able to control my little dinghy's perfectly. it's the most effective way to learn, although - saying that I think sometimes it might be good to just listen to your parents (or others) as they probably have a good reason for their opinion. (I definitely didn't think like that back then) but even this I had to find out by experiment. And well, honestly I often still don't listen to the opinions of others, because I like to try things out for myself. …which is why I was actually sailing on that day. Everybody including the more sensible part of my brain thought there was to much wind to go sailing in the Minicat. But how do you really know for certain unless you get out there. So long story short, I was struggling under that sail thinking of me at age 6 doing the same thing, and it surprised me how similar it was. The same amount of disorientation. Water sloshing around - above you and under you. Simply everywhere. The same struggle and the same thrill. I only just managed to get her right side up again, heading upwind before I landed in the mangroves on the leeward side. It made me realize again how much fun dinghy sailing is.
Guppy's floorboards ready to be sanded down and revarnished. Putting on the last layer of varnish on the table. This picture was actually taken a few months ago when we went out sailing with some friends. They build this little boat themselves. The Whangarei harbour is a fun place to sail in with a small boat because there is lots of hidden little streams, that I wouldn't be able to explore with Guppy.