First Solo Dinghy Sail!
At the tender age of 43, I did something yesterday that I’ve wanted to do since I was a teenager: I took a sailboat out all by myself...
My family and I currently live in Abu Dhabi. Last year I finally took some sailing lessons in Dubai. Last month I was able to buy my first boat-a 16’ Topper Sport dinghy. The plan was to go out with a friend who is much more experienced, but he had to cancel last minute. I thought for a moment and said, “Well, it’s now or never!” It’s berthed in a marina in Abu Dhabi that is not right on the Gulf, so there is some sheltered water. It was blowing about 16 knots, but I was determined to go. It’s too hot during the day, so I had to go out at 5:00 when it cools down to a balmy 95 degrees.
To say I was nervous as I motored out with my little trolling motor is an understatement. When I got far enough away from land, I stopped the motor and raised the mailsail (it has a jib but I passed on it; only 1 at a time for now) and off I went. I can’t even say I enjoyed it because I was so nervous. I don’t remember when I first drove by myself, but I imagine my feelings were similar.
I just tacked back and forth with the mailsail basically out because I was afraid of moving too fast. I just got the boat, so I want to get a feel for her before I push her faster. That went well, except for the boom almost smacking me in the head, my face getting smacked with the mailsheets another time, and having to step over my tiller extension several times because it didn’t end up where I wanted it after the tack. Every now and then I allowed myself a moment of joy; at one point I even said, “Mom, if you could see your son now.”
As I sailed along a beach, I saw a mother and young child stop digging in the sand and watch me go. I then said to myself, “Don’t screw up because you have an audience now.” Of course, I then proceed to screw up by getting caught in irons and begin to drift towards the beach. “Gee Mommy, look at the pretty sailboat. Is he supposed to be moving backwards towards us?” I try to remain cool, but nothing is happening. Finally I bit the bullet and start up my little trolling motor and head back out.
I spent an hour out there, and it went as well as I could have hoped. I’ll be heading out several times a week until I get comfortable enough to bring the wife and kids out.
Just wanted to share my story with others who would appreciate it.
Living the dream,