One fine Autumn day I had a group to take on a sailing trip round Cobh harbour.
Weather was fine at 9.00 am, but forecasts threatened squalls later in the day.
The westerly wind would then push wind against tide and change conditions markedly from the flat calm of morning.
We spent a good hour checking communications, first aid kits and detailing a compact sailing area, before getting dressed to go out.
At the appointed time three polished young gentlemen, of around 15 years old, drew up to the slipway. Casting about for their chauffeur for the day, they carried an unmistakable whiff of privilege. On seeing their man, they seemed mildly amused by sun bleached oilskins and a woolly cap.
Questions were thrown; is the bung in… the painter and anchor tied off, first aid kit, bucket and sponge in the boat? The looks from all three said …”but that’s yourjob!”
The response was; “lads till its done, we’re going nowhere. I expect to see the anchor rope flaked and coiled back in the bucket, reef-lines checked on the main sail and everything tied in. I’ll be back to check your life jackets in five minutes.”
A hurried conference elicited a stubbed but positive response. Five minutes later a surly crew departed the slip in a shipshape state.
The reins were passed with a breezy: “She’s yours now. Try and avoid the passenger ferries.” Three young crewmen settled into a nice rhythm, two rotating sail handling, alternating on the steering every ten minutes or so.
Soon enough, wind and waves picked up. Frothy foam drew dark streaks across the harbour. Boat became smaller, Sea bigger. Shoots of fear ran through the boat. The eyes of the sailors more often met the face of the instructor.
It was decided to anchor up on the back of Spike island and reduce sail. Battening noise, grey water and slapping sailcloth brought distant echoes of the balmy morning on the pier.
After a time, tide eased and wind relented. Numb fingers took greater purchase, hauling hard on slathering ropes, against their will. Our wild, fretting, stallion morphed back slowly into the docile donkey we knew well.
All jobs done, sail shortened, boat and crew plodded home to brightening blue skies, balmy breeze and softening seas.
As one and the other young man set foot back on dry land, a palpable sense of change had occurred on that boat, that day. All hands went to the boat to keep her off the jutting slipway. Two men hurried, unasked, to get the trailer. Sails were dropped and gear stowed in silence. Boat was washed down and lavished with care.
Although tired and sore the crew hauled as one to get the boat out and dried off. Afterwards, the lads, now dressed, showered and ready for the road home, took a wander over to the other boats tied up on the quay wall.
Easy conversation echoed in and out on the wind. Tales of rawbone ropes, banter, challenge met and courage found, filtered away as three pairs of feet drifted, as one, into the warm evening.
Who and what we choose to be is more often a test of our resilience and experience, rather than our optimism.
#AdventureTherapy #Philosophy #Psychology