The truth about yachting

Cover of Three men in a boatThe truth about yachting is that it is wet. All the time. And cold. And you do it all at an angle of 45 degrees. Then, just as your balance has adjusted to that, they tack and you have to do it all again from the other side. Oh, and it’s windy and when it’s not windy (aka The America’s Cup 2013), the skipper, probably your best mate or lover will be grumpy, grumpy, grumpy. He may put on the diesel engine. And then there’s the seasickness.

So I am mystified by the zealousness with which the nation has taken to The America’s Cup. And I should know, because back in the 70s, I was raised on a diet of glamorous Peter Stuyvesant sailing adverts – all beautiful women in bikinis and gorgeous tanned men, went on a date with a yachting man to a Thor Heyerdahl (KonTiki) film. And married him.

The first yacht was a thing of great beauty belonging to the Dragon class. Sleek, wooden craft with no facilities whatsoever, they are famous for having been the favoured yacht of Royalty. But Royalty has minions and Dragons need to be recaulked and varnished every year. My husband only had me.

Then he said: let’s build a yacht and take part in the Cape to  Rio race. The word “No” never crossed my mind. And that is how I came to be pregnant, wearing a bright orange lifejacket like a giant Oros man and  sailing the seas of the Cape of Storms without the comfort of sherry (the acknowledged best thing to drink on yachts because it tastes the same coming up as it does going down.)

The baby, my daughter, was born and I continued sailing with children. Such Fun – Not. Then, one day on a rough trip, breastfeeding her down below, I burped her. She vomited down my back and I threw up in the bucket between my knees. Everyone agreed it was time to quit. I have never been back on a yacht since.

That said,  the library has loads of sailing books and resources for all the innocents out there. But I am sticking to narrow boats and ocean liners from now on. But for all of you who are getting up the crack of dawn to support Emirate Team New Zealand and who are considering buying a dinghy for Christmas, I say stick to a rubber ducky and if you don’t believe me, surely this quote will convince you!

Sailing – The fine art of getting wet and becoming ill, while going nowhere slowly at great expense (equivalent to standing in a cold shower, fully clothed, throwing up, and tearing up $100 bills, while a bunch of other people watch you).

Time to put on my red socks. Go Team New Zealand!

20 thoughts on “The truth about yachting

  1. purplerulz 25 September 2013 / 12:40 pm

    Excellent post Roberta, no I’ve never seen the attraction to boats myself either… but I thought that was because I’ve never really been in anything smaller than a ferry!

  2. Laraine 25 September 2013 / 12:52 pm

    Thanks, Roberta. Very true on the whole. But I have to admit to enjoying sailing on a catamaran in the Hauraki Gulf since I didn’t have to do any of the dirty work (apart from cooking, that is). The only thing I didn’t like about Questing was her coffin berths; no privacy for undressing, and then you had to slide yourself into bed feet first. So the journey was much more fun than the arrival. But when she was replaced by a much more comfortable cat that didn’t have sails the arrival got to be much nicer than the journey. We still regret we never got to putting a rigging on Tanimara, but her next owner did.

    • robertafsmith 25 September 2013 / 2:12 pm

      I think messing about in smaller boats on calmer waters probably is a lot of fun – even for families with kids. I was caught up in the worst type of yachting, small, deep-sea keelboat sailing on rough seas. I didn’t stand a chance. Even the cooking was problematic – below decks on a gimballed stove, at the usual 45 degree angle with the smell of diesel in the background. Your experience of sailing sounds like a lot more fun!

  3. ValerieL 25 September 2013 / 1:38 pm

    Hi Roberta. I grew up in the middle of Victoria. Two hours drive from Melbourne’s CBD. And yes we had a yacht club. The lake was of variable size. Small in a drought, big in a flood and was home to a very small yacht club.

    • robertafsmith 25 September 2013 / 2:27 pm

      But, did you sail? A shed of your own would be very useful for a sailing lady!

  4. Helen Clare 25 September 2013 / 2:55 pm

    Great post, thanks Roberta, made my day. I’m intrigued by sailing and want to give it a go, but I’m not sure how I’ll convince my stomach.

    • robertafsmith 25 September 2013 / 6:38 pm

      The stomach may come round in the end, but the budget just never stops haemorrhaging!

      • ValerieL 26 September 2013 / 4:19 pm

        Does a toy yacht on the dam count?

  5. helen weideman 25 September 2013 / 4:30 pm

    After being in some very bumpy weather, sailing in Durban harbour and dodging large shipping vessels, I really disliked sailing. The final straw was in bad weather, my husband at the time insisted on going ashore to Spiga D’Or, to buy pizza, and with me feelig seasick, the Point Yacht club still speaks of seeing pizza flying across the water and hitting the walkway…

    • robertafsmith 25 September 2013 / 6:29 pm

      Oh, so you were the pizza lady, you were famous!

  6. Gallivanta 25 September 2013 / 4:39 pm

    Excellent quote and a great post!!!

    • robertafsmith 25 September 2013 / 6:39 pm

      Nothing like a good quote to give a blog a bit of muscle!

      • Gallivanta 25 September 2013 / 6:59 pm

        Or, in this case, perhaps, to anchor it 😉

  7. janna 25 September 2013 / 5:49 pm

    I loved watching the program ‘Marae Investigates’ after yesterdays race. In part the documentary was based on how Maori connects with Americas Cup… sailing and wind navigation is embedded deeply in the pakiwaitara/stories of Aotearoa. The great seafaring catamarans of our early history. The program was inspirational to watch. The Americas Cup Race this year and those truly magnificent craft they are racing are causing people especially our youth and children to return to the yacht clubs and waka ama and the sea. For that I shout “Bravo!!!”….time to leave the computers and the stuffy rooms for the wind in our hair and the sea spray in our faces….(not to mention hot showers, BBQs, good laughs, hard physical work and socialising!)

    • robertafsmith 25 September 2013 / 6:32 pm

      Well said Janna. You’ll find me sitting between the hot showers and the BBQ at any outdoor sailing event you organise!

      • jaxjaxster 25 September 2013 / 9:26 pm

        I’ll join at said BBQ, but will only shower if it’s not communal, noone needs to see that!

  8. Dianne Dwight 8 October 2013 / 3:26 pm

    brilliant writing haven’t laughed so much for ages.
    Dianne @ Shirley

  9. Yacht Manager 5 November 2013 / 2:23 pm

    Wow you really gave sailing a good go! What a hilarious blog, thank you. And what great stories you have to tell. I am very impressed by your resilience. It can be the most amazing feeling in the world flying along the water, but I agree it is very hard work and much better if you don’t suffer from seasickness! I bet you have lots more epic sailing stories!

    • robertafsmith 5 November 2013 / 3:59 pm

      Eeeeek! A reply from a real yachting lady! My mistake was to assume that because my husband loved it, I would love it too. Just not my thing. But you’d already worked that out I bet!

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