I wrote this article last May, after Chris and I had taken another step in our sailing journey. As a complete novice, this was a reflection on what I had learned during the week and drew on advice my dad once gave me as I learned to drive. “Aim this car to miss everything!” he had said. It seemed fairly sound advice and I have sought to comply. Therefore, it seemed fairly reasonable to me, to apply the same principles to the science of sailing.
In October 2016, Chris and I completed a RYA Day Skipper course. You can read about it in the post Where Does my Soul Take Me. I can’t say I felt completely confident of being able to jump in a yacht and sail off into the sunset and I came away with a degree of uncertainty. Bearing in mind that the most sailing experience I had had before the end of last year was traveling on ferries, this is a steep learning curve. So to consolidate, we hired a yacht for a week’s sailing in Croatia and clutching our sailing qualification, we arrived on the Dalmatian Coast.
Croatia holds an interesting place in our memory, since the last time we visited, we came by car and subsequently had a major car accident. You can read about it in the post One Full Stop. Family members, when told where we were going, dramatically enquired, “You’re not driving, are you?”
Thus arriving in Agana to pick up the boat, at the forefront of my mind was, ” Don’t hit anything!”. Once we got out to sea, hitting other ships was not top of my list of concerns. The weather and visibility were good and it was easy to remember the rules of the sea e.g. Big ships go first!! No, the biggest challenges that first day, besides getting used to the boat, was mooring it in a marina. We had to quickly come up with a system for coming into port. I took the helm and Chris took the mooring ropes.
In the Mediterranean, boats are moored stern to. That means the back of the boat is towards the marina pontoon. Imagine parking a car in a car park, but the car is on castors and so are all the other cars, however they have been secured by ropes. You get the picture?? With a little help from the harbour master, we got the boat into its over night berth in Milna, without hitting anything. Then we sat down for a shaky few minutes and made a cup of tea. One down. We were on our way.
The next day, we plotted a course to the Island of St Klement. Again another reason to pick Croatia for our first duo sailing trip, was that this part of the Med has no tides. One less thing to worry about. It’s the hitting thing again. We wouldn’t hit the bottom, because the tide had fallen. We could, however, hit the bottom, if we sailed in water that was too shallow, so we made sure we didn’t! It’s called pilotage. You plot the course you want to take using charts to make sure there is nothing on your proposed route to hit.
Off St Klement Island, we found a secluded bay with only one other yacht at anchor. Our next challenge, drop the anchor! This required a delicate balance between what needed to be hit and what should not. Basically, we needed the water to be the right depth, so the anchor hit the bottom and the yacht didn’t. Then the anchor needed to be in the right place to hold the yacht, so it didn’t hit the shore, by drifting or swinging round too close. Yachts move when at anchor. It’s the car on castors things again. We also gave the other yacht plenty of room because we didn’t want him to hit us. Since we had a whole quiet bay to share, it seemed only fair to leave plenty of space.
At anchor in this quiet place, was then everything you could ever dream of about being on a yacht. The pay off, if you like, from all that effort to avoid hitting anything. The gentle rocking of the boat, the lapping of the waves against the shoreline rocks, the occasional flip of fish in the water and the magnificence of the sunset. To say I was hooked would be an under statement. Now where shall we sail next??
Well a year on, we will be setting out to sail our own yacht – Andromeda of Arisaig – in the Baltic and I aim to apply the principal of ‘not hitting things, once more’ I am sure you will get to hear of our adventures very soon…