26 March 2014

Pooped & Tethered

Well, it’s official. I’ve been pooped and tethered. Two things I never really thought I would say about myself before we started cruising. If you aren’t a sailor, don’t worry, it isn’t what you might think it means. Being pooped doesn’t have anything to do with being exhausted or things you might do in the privacy of your bathroom. Instead, it means that a giant wave of water has come crashing down into the cockpit surprising you and completely soaking you. The first time it happened to me, Scott just smiled and said, “You’ve been pooped. Welcome to the club.” I thought it was an odd thing to say to someone sitting in a puddle of freezing salt water. I didn’t think a club dedicated to poop was one that I really wanted to join. Then he said, “Okay, it’s time to get you tethered.” That’s when I thought he was really getting weird.

It turns out he meant that I should attach a tether to my PFD (personal flotation device) and latch myself onto the boat so that if another giant wave came crashing over and I got swept overboard, at least I would still be attached to the boat. Well, at this point, I didn’t think sailing could get any better. Free cold salt water baths and a device that allows you to be dragged alongside your boat in cold salt water. Then Scott asked me to put in the washboards in and I asked him if he was kidding. I guess he wasn’t because if I hadn’t put them in, there would have been a lot of water down below when the next wave came over our boat.

So how did this happen? We had left Islington Bay super early in the cover of darkness in order to get through the Motuihe Channel with the outgoing tide. But this cunning plan meant we were going to be going against the tide once we hit the Colville Channel. The forecast was for 10-15 knots behind us, but by the time we got to the Colville Channel it was blowing 26 knots behind us. The channel is a bottleneck between the Coromandel Peninsula and Great Barrier Island and has particularly long fetch. One might even say the fetch runs from Cape Horn through the southern seas before hitting the channel. We ended up with a fair bit of wind against tide so things had gotten rather lumpy. And when you have lumpy seas, pooping might just happen to you. And it did. Wave after wave after wave over the side. And while pooping seems kind of funny when it happens to Scott, it kind of loses its appeal when it happens to yourself one too many times.

I decided this was a good opportunity to point out to Scott that this experience didn’t resemble anything like the pamphlet he originally gave me when he was trying to convince me to move aboard a sailboat and cruise around the world. The pamphlet I was given had pictures of tropical islands, people swimming on beautiful beaches and peaceful sailing on flat, calm seas. Being pooped and tethered didn’t really feature as a key selling point. Hmm, go figure. {Note to self: read the fine print in anything Scott gives you very, very closely.}

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