Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Up the Mast

We woke up to a snowy day, which was a big drag as we had to go into Ottawa this afternoon for a doctor's appointment. Oh well, at least we didn't have to brave the morning rush hour as well - there are some advantages to retirement.

The word of the day today - lobscouse (LAHB-skouss noun : a sailor's dish of stewed or baked meat with vegetables and hardtack). Does a bowl of chili and a homemade biscuit count. Otherwise, since I'm not feeding any sailor's these days, we'll have to go back in time to when I was a teenager and my parents had a sailboat. The whole family used to spend weeks at a time sailing around the 1000 Islands and camping at the designated park islands. It was a fun carefree way to spend a summer. Lots of swimming, reading, sailing, and meeting new people. Sometimes we'd meet some musical people and stay up late playing instruments, other times just talking and laughing.  There may have only been a few summers spent this way but they stand out as special years. Mom would always keep a can of SPAM and some crackers on hand in case we were having too much fun to get to the mainland and a grocery store. She'd cut it into slices and pan-fry it till it was warm - I think you could call it a lobscouse meal.

One time on our summer vacation, the jib halyard came undone and raced to the top of the mast (a halyard is the wire that pulls the sail to the top of the mast). There was only one way to get it back - someone had to go to the top of the mast and grab it. It was decided that I was the perfect one to risk life and limb as I was just the right teenage size and age (after all who would miss a miserable teenager if she fell to her death!). So we gathered up the jib to get it out of the way, put down the mainsail to free up its halyard, dug out the bosun's chair (a little - and I mean little sling to sit on) and hooked it onto the mainsail halyard. I hung on tight and Dad winched me up the mast. Did I mention that I'm afraid of heights? We had to keep the boat motoring to keep it more stable, but unfortunately we were also at one of the most narrow channels on a major shipping route. And yes, a big tanker did come by... only when you are at the top of a mast, hanging on for dear life, do you realize just how big a wake a tanker makes, and just how much a little sailboat tosses around, mast swinging wildly. There may be big dents in the mast from where I held on so tight but I survived, got the other halyard down and even took a few photos (can you believe they made me take a camera with me)!