Friday 7 December 2001

A weekend sailing on the Solent.

I've made a big decision, I don't really like sailing much. Actually, more specifically, I don't really like sailing with my boss much. About 4 times a year, my dimunitive (some might say stunted), Napoleonic, goatee-wearing boss (who is really quite important and is potentially being lined up as CEO) decides to put his sailing knowledge and experience to some use and charters a boat and invites some friends down for the weekend. It's a chance for him to invite some young graduates from work who might be impressed by his posturing. I get invited, partly because I sort of get on with him, but mainly because he needs some experienced crew on the boat.

It's always stressful. The thing about Gary is that although he may be little bigger than a 50p piece, his ego doesn't fit comfortably in anything smaller than a medium sized African republic. He thinks he's the best sailor in the world (based on a week's sailing course and a few weekends in coastal waters) and is prepared to shout loudly enough to prove it. Unsurprisingly, he's not a very good sailor, he has neither the patience or experience to skipper a boat full of novices, he cannot anticipate the wind and weather and I certainly wouldn't trust him to take me any further than a few miles.

My main complaint is that while he understands the basics of sailing, and the concepts therein, when he skippers a boat full of 8 people, concepts alone aren't good enough. It's not enough to say "we're going to tack", you have to say "we're going to tack, the following will happen, you pull on that rope, you let go of this rope and then...". It irritates me immensely, and will at some point prove to be dangerous. He thinks I'm an over-anxious jessy, I think he'll get into serious trouble unless he wises up and don't wish to be with him when he does.

The slightly odd thing is that I always accept his invitations. I have a deal with another friend who also gets invited that we have to both go (we're both pretty competent and capable of running the boat whilst giving Gary the illusion that he's in charge) or neither of us will go, but even so I get wound up and fed up. I think I must be a bit sycophantic at heart.

Anway, enough whining. The weekend passed off without incident, and apart from being bloody cold, we had lovely weather. The most entertaining moment came when Gary decided we'd have a sail in the dark ('cos it's pretty innit) at about 4pm on the Saturday. Everything was fine, right up to the point where he decided just to head straight for Cowes. Cue much beeping from the depth sounder as we get down to 40cm of water beneath the keel as we approach the huge sandbar that is clearly marked on all the charts. Cue also me wearily (to derive maximum coolness) telling them to turn the boat round and follow my directions as I go downstairs, find the chart and guide us in.

Gary's pride was sufficiently dented that he has challenged me to a sailing race in March. I'm a good enough sailor to know that I'm not good enough to race boats, so I just need to search for a ringer to skipper the boat for me. Bring it on.