15 July 2013

Sailing with Penny

In the interest of being a supportive wife wanting to learn more about Scott's dream and realizing that there won't be crew when we're out sailing (I'll be the crew), I took Penny Whiting's practical sailing course in Auckland. Scott had offered to teach me to sail when we had purchased a boat but you know what its like with husbands teaching wives. Scott's teaching methodology, as I'm sure it is with husbands the world over, is called comprehension through repetition. He basically repeats the same thing over and over again (even if it didn't make sense the first time). This is aided by a series of grunts, monosyllabic one and two word sentences and facial expressions. When on the rare occasion he produces a polysyllabic two word sentence he is so pleased with himself I feel I should toss him a treat or at least give him a scratch behind the ear.

With this in mind we both asked around about courses in Auckland (he asked people he raced with, I stopped random people on the street) and Penny's course was often mentioned. It is a 15 hour course which runs over two weekends and covers practical sailing and chart work. The course was mostly made up of women many of whom already own boats and sail with their husbands but don't feel competent to support their skipper husbands. Some of them also thought their husbands were doing things wrong and wanted to be able to go back and say to them, "No, that's not how you do it! Penny says you should do it this way!" 

Some of these women had real horror stories of their husbands trying to teach them to sail. They didn't recommend it which is why they found Penny. (There seems to be lots and lots written about marriages and sailing. The two don't always seem to mix as More Joy Everywhere have found. Personally, I think Scott and I will be fine. He makes me laugh and from what I read laughter is important especially when there are gale force winds and you're worried your boat is going to crash into the rocky shore.)

Penny's favorite quote is - "If it is hard to do, you're doing it wrong." She said that a lot to me. I did a lot of things wrong. It was hard and I had the bruises to show it. But it got easier. Well, some things got easier. I forgot everything I learned in chart work and I still can't tie knots. I did complete the course, got myself a fancy certificate, a copy of Penny's book (which I bring out from time to time and quote from it to Scott saying, "Penny says..." He may be getting tired of hearing what Penny says.). 

I also bought myself the best shoes ever from Penny - my Lil Grippers. I love them. They're made out of wetsuit material and keep my feet reasonably warm. I sure hope they sell them in other parts of the world because when they wear out, I'm going to want another pair. They have a picture of a cute little octopus on each shoe. Who wouldn't want an octopus on their shoe.

This stupid bunny keeps running out of his hole and getting tangled up around some tree that keeps getting in the way. Stay in your hole little bunny, don't come out. It's way too dangerous out there! People keep trying to tie bunnies to trees! 

This is what a bowline knot looks like (at least in my head). I hope this one is still running free on the South Island and hasn't been turned into a knot.

For those that don't know, this is a reference to a bowline knot. For some reason, you are supposed to visualize a bunny running out of his hole around a tree and magically turning himself into a knot. I know the name, I just can't tie it. Thinking about a bunny really doesn't help. Unfortunately, they are one of the most important knots to be able to tie. I can, however, tie "Ellen Specials" - knots that are very complicated, can't be replicated and can't be easily untied. It is counter-intuitive to me, but sometimes you want knots that can be easily untied. Needless to say Scott isn't very fond of "Ellen Specials" especially when he has to untie them.

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