Tag Archives: sailing

A New Language or Two

 

I know people who would look at this photograph and think:

“Wet.”

“Cold.”

“Horrid”

Whereas I look at it and think:

“Excitement.”

“Fun.”

“Women in wet tee shirts!”

So what has this to do with a new language?

Well, I am going to learn to sail but before I do, I have to learn the language that sailors use. I will call this language “Nautical”. It’s English Jim but not as we know it.

For instance, the pointy bit at the front is called the “Bow” (as in what a gentleman does when he meets Her Queenliness)

 

The rear end of a boat is “the stern”.

Left is “port” and right is “starboard”. The floor is “the deck” while a wall is called “a bulkhead”. The driver is called “the helmsman”. “Abreast” is not what you see when a woman is wearing a wet tee shirt unfortunately, it means side by side or by the side of. The “beam” is the widest part of a ship or boat. Downstairs is “below” and upstairs is “atop”. A ¬†room is called a “cabin”, the kitchen is “the galley” and the speed of the boat is given in “knots”! Why this should be is beyond me.

Then there’s “athwartship”! (Really? You have got to be kidding me). It means at right angles to the centre line of the boat/ship.

Then you have words where all the vowels have deliberately been removed:

F’r’c’stl’. What’s that then? How do you pronounce it?

M”ns”l. Not a clue.

See? It’s not as easy as you first think. I’m getting there though and once I’ve got it sorted and can speak like an old sea dog, I’ll get on with learning a new foreign language. Probably French.

We have all been to France several times and we murder the French language whenever we can. Recently, on a fairly regular basis, magazines dedicated to French property have started making an appearance.

Then, the other day, PIL asked if we still had the Peter Mayle books, A Year in Provence and Toujours Provence. I said I’d look in amongst the million or so books we have banging about but to no avail. So I went to Waterstones in Canterbury and bought A Year in Provence and, because they didn’t have Toujours, I also bought My Good Life in France by Janine Marsh. I’ll get Toujours some other time. I wrapped the books up, I wrote “Happy Wednesday” on a sticker and presented it to PIL when she got home. They remain unread! Except by me.

I am in no particular rush. By the time CJ finishes school and Uni’ I’ll be getting on a bit so there’s plenty of time.

Then, one day, I will be fluent in Nautical and in French and PIL will suddenly decided it’s time to up sticks, grab our zimmer frames and move to bloody Spain!

Have a brilliant day.

More Dick soon.

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Sailing

A little while ago I wrote some fiction regarding a conversation I had with Mr. Death. You can read it here.

It is a work of fiction but, as with many things, it had elements of true life in it – some of my real life experiences. One of the true items in that story is my desire to learn a new language – French (probably) and to learn how to sail.

Recently, we went on holiday. We went to Antigua. It was bloody brilliant. We flew out via Virgin Atlantic Upper Class (the posh class!) That was an eye opener. I’m not sure how PIL managed it. I think she got the geeks at work to hack into Virgin Atlantic and get us an up grade. Or it might have been her using the gazillion air miles we had accumulated over the years. We arrived at Gatwick, checked in and went to the Virgin lounge. We were offered champagne! It was 6am! Of course we accepted – it was free! We had all kinds of nibbles offered. More champagne was consumed. Our flight was announced and, slightly the worse for wear we staggered off and got on the plane. The leg room! Unfuckingbelievable!

We arrived in Antigua after a wonderful flight, being waited on hand and foot, totally refreshed and ready to go.

It was lovely. Smashing sandy beaches. Plentiful bars and restaurants. Pools dotted around. Absolute bliss. I noted a number of small sailing boats. Catamarans. I thought to myself, I can get started here. A problem arose though. We are a family that goes on holiday and we SLOB! We lie in the sun. We eat. We drink and that was the problem. Greg and I crept off to the gym at 6.30 each morning. We got back, we all showered and went for breakfast. By 9am we were sprawled out by the pool. At 10, when the bars opened we were getting a bit hot so we’d go get a drink. The intention was always to get a soft drink, 10am being a bit too early to hit the hard stuff but the bar man would point out;

“It’s midday somewhere man.”

So we had rum as well. And with no concept of portion control, they were heavy on the alcohol. After a hearty lunch I was probably too pissed to go sailing, let alone learn anything so I didn’t go.

As a great believer in not doing things by half, I decided my first experience of learning to sail would not be on board an eight foot dinghy but on a proper 50 foot sailing yacht! And that’s what we did. We chartered a yacht for the day. It was called Jabberwocky and it was owned by Nick and Kaye, who are two of the nicest people you could wish to meet.

We got a cab from the resort to where Jabberwocky was parked at a place called Jolly Harbour. Antigua is full of places with lovely names like that. We set sail. We had a choice. Snorkelling or beach. We’re slobs so we chose beach and we headed off to a place called Deep Bay. It was on our way here that I carried out my first ever sailing task:

I set the genoa!

I have no idea what that is or what I was doing except it involved some hard physical labour and I think I set the sail in front of the mast. I felt inordinately pleased with myself.

We arrived. The anchor was dropped and we took the little RIB to shore. It was just as you would imagine a desert island to be. Warm seas lapping on a soft sandy beach. There were a couple of other people there but it was heavenly. There was a small fort, Fort Barrington, on the hillside. Greg, CJ and I went off for a wander while PIL and Ed sat on the beach and swam in the sea.

The beach at Deep Bay with Jabberwocky in the background

Time for lunch back on Jabberwocky. PIL, Greg and CJ took the RIB back. Ed and I swam back. I decided on back stroke but because I’m useless, without noticing, I started to swim back to shore. The others found this immensely funny. I just got tired!

Jabberwocky at anchor in Deep Bay

Lunch was lovely. Afterwards, we set sail again heading back to Jolly Harbour.

Jabberwocky setting sail back to Jolly Harbour

Once we got out of Deep Bay, I set the genoa again and joy of joy, I took the helm and steered the yacht on it’s way back to its home port.

Me at the helm of Jabberwocky

I was in heaven. It’s a lot harder that it seems and I’m sure my course was more than a bit ziggy zaggy but I was having a great time. The rest of the family were up at the pointy bit at the front and then they started to sing!

Having an absolutely brilliant time.

 

Over the sound of the waves and the wind in the sails I couldn’t make out the words but the tune was just about audible. One of them them was singing “Sailing”, the Rod Stewart song. Despite my surprise at one of my children actually knowing this song, I felt a huge sense of well being and happiness well up inside me. We were having a great time. My family up at the front burst in to laughter and they all started singing. As they did, the wind carried the words to my position at the helm. This is what they sang:

All together now.

We are sinking

We are sinking

To the bottom

Of the sea

Dad was steering

Hit an island

Didn’t see it

Blind old git

 

Hit the island

Of Antigua

How did Daddy

Manage that?

We have sunk now

And we’re swimming

All because our

Dad’s a prat!

Charming!

Despite this, I will learn to sail and soon I will be visiting a local sailing club and begin lessons. I may just stick to smaller dinghies or catamarans but, who knows, I may go onto larger boats. We shall see and I will keep you informed about my progress.

Of course, let’s not forget that I also want to learn a new language but since trying my hand at sailing, that will now be TWO new languages to learn. The reasons why will follow soon.

Have a lovely day.

More Dick soon.

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Holiday. Pt2

Have you ever noticed how when you’re having the time of your life, time just gallops by? So much for that Einstein bloke and his theories.

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We were having a great time. Le Telfair had everything we needed, swimming pools, a beautiful beach, lovely sea,

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cold beer, gorgeous food, fantastic rooms and amazing views. So much so that we had no real desire to go off exploring. We did take one trip out on a sailing boat to visit a “paradise” island. It wasn’t called Paradise Island and I’m not entirely convinced it was an island. We were taken to the East coast in a minibus. The locals drive on the right side, which is the left. In keeping with their French origins, they do like to drive in the middle of the road whenever possible though. And sometimes, they drive there even when it isn’t possible. We went aboard a beautiful catamaran. There was us lot plus about half a dozen other people. We set sail by starting the outboard¬†motors and headed off into the Indian Ocean.

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We slobbed out at the pointy end at the front and drank beer.

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The crew was very pleasant even if they did look like pirates. After a while the crew chucked the anchor over the side and some of the passengers went snorkelling. We didn’t. There are sharks in the Indian Ocean and we didn’t fancy becoming a meal. The crew cooked up a barbecue and we had a lovely meal of freshly caught barbecued fish and more beer. It was sublime! It was on this little voyage that I discovered exactly what I want to do for the rest of my life. I want to do nothing more than sit on the little seat at the front of a catamaran, drinking beer, sailing around the Ocean and saying nautical things like;

“Avast behind!”

or

“Shiver me timbers”

or even,

“Arrr. Jim lad.”

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Eventually, we arrived at the paradise island. We took a small boat to look at a waterfall, which was very nice.

CJ and Ed as we headed off to the waterfall.

CJ and Ed as we headed off to the waterfall.

Then we went ashore to spend a couple of hours poking about. I have to say that it was just like you imagine a Paradise Island to be with white, sandy beaches, cool seas, palm trees and a Swiss family called Robinson strolling along the beach.

This really is the island we visited.

This really is the island we visited.

That is, if you took the 3027 other people who were also visiting off the island and dumped them far out to sea. Bit of a disappointment that. We set sail again only this time we did set sail and cruised away and the incredible sense of happiness and well-being returned to us once more.

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We returned to Le Telfair just as the sun began to set.

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I don’t think I have seen us all quite so relaxed, happy and contented.

The boys decided to play another round of golf. PIL and CJ went with them after promising not to be abusive about the standard of play they were about to witness. I must say now that while Ed and Greg will never be pro golfers, they play a damned sight better than any of us could.

I decided not to go and instead sit by the pool, catch some rays, go pinker and read one of my books. I grabbed a book and made like a German and laid out towels over several sun loungers. I settled down and started to read, but not for long. The book I was reading was by a well-respected military historian named Antony Beevor and was entitled “ARDENNES 1944. HITLERS LAST GAMBLE” and it was about the Nazis attack more commonly called “The Battle of the Bulge”. After reading about 2 pages, I realised that very much like the US 101st Airborne Division in Bastogne during this campaign, I was surrounded by Germans!

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Probably not the best choice of reading material under the circumstances. I returned to my room to find another book. I had one written by the author, poet, comedian and general raving lunatic, the late Spike Milligan. He is reputed to have engraved on his gravestone “I told you I was ill”. My kind of bloke. Anyway, the book of his I had with me was entitled “ADOLF HITLER. MY PART IN HIS DOWNFALL.” Hmmmm. Probably not.

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In the end I took a book by Clarkson and had a jolly good browse through that while I singed around the edges. Everyone else eventually returned. Out of the 12 balls they took with them, they had 2 left but they had all had a bloody good time.

There was also a gym on site so from time to time we all took a wander down there and had a workout

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but generally all we did was chill out and relax. We walked along the beach. We indulged in good conversation. Sometimes we did both at the same time.

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All good things come to an end eventually and unfortunately, so did our holiday in Mauritius. We had an absolutely blinding time there. We loved every second of our stay. Would we go again? Absolutely. Have to save up for a while though so not anytime soon. On that note, the Rio Olympics are on TV now so I’m off to watch that. Team GB are doing well so far and we won Gold and Silver in the slalom event which was good. CJ is glued to the swimming and the Womens hockey. She wants to know why ladies netball isn’t an Olympic event especially as the mens version is.

Have a great day.

More Dick soon.

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