I have these memories of primary school, where the teachers used to have us play this game called ‘Port and Starboard’. I never really got the gist of that game. I would stand somewhat in the vicinity of the teacher as he called out ‘port’ and pointed to an area of the room where all the children would run to. Then ‘starboard’ for the same effect. In my confusion, I would take a couple of steps in the direction that a majority of the class had run off too, so at least I kinda looked like I knew what I was doing! The teacher could have been speaking double Dutch for all I knew – I didn’t even know my right from left!!!
Fast forward many years to the present. Notwithstanding that some days I still have difficulty differentiating my left from right, the parts of a boat make more sense to me now. Thank goodness!
I fell into sailing by way of meeting my partner. He had a 27ft Mottle when we met. For our second date, he took me out sailing. I had absolutely no idea what to expect or what to do. What will I do when he realises I forget my left from right? I was more concerned about that than falling off the yacht.
Sheets, cleats, Genoa, oh my. So many many things to learn. Why does everything little thing have a name? Main sail, reefing points, slugs, sliders, clew, halyard, outhaul, winch, just to name a few. Don’t even get me started on the knots.
Well, persistence and resilience are my middle names and I got there. From that first time on a yacht, it felt good. It felt like home. Every time those gates to the lock open, that mighty sense of freedom overwhelms you. When we get out of the channel and the sails are hoisted, the engine is finally turned off and its just you and the elements. Nothing else matters. That, right there is my favourite moment. The wind catches the sails, the yacht has a steady cruising speed and the sound of the bow wave is pure bliss.
Now, I am the proud owner of a 43ft Cavalier Sloop. She is big and she is beautiful. She came up for sale and just went to ‘have a look’. Let me tell you something, when an item has been price reduced and you go for ‘a look’, that there is a dangerous combination. Emma Ward felt comfortable and homely. She fit like a glove. I just had to have it.
The dream of selling up the land life for that of the sea is fast becoming a reality. A goal has been set. A date marked on the calendar. Every time I need to make a decision, it is with the knowledge that I will be selling up and living a sailor’s life.
Oh the adventures to be had. So far around the coastline of Darwin, Australia we have sailed with the dolphins seen turtles and an abundance of birds and flying fish.
I love the unpredictability of each sail. Our monsoonal wet season in the tropics can be a testament to that. Hanging on to the boom in rough weather whilst trying to reef. Clinging to the mast to untangle a sheet, glasses so smudged and fogged up, wet from the rain but not feeling the cold because the adrenalin rush takes over as you do your best to rectify a situation to keep sailing. Thinking on your feet. Being so aware of the surroundings. What’s the swell like? How are the clouds forming? Do they show signs of rain? Where’s that weird noise coming from? The yacht precariously tilted on one side, yet never once feeling as if it would flip over.
Sights are set on a circumnavigation of Australia, then watch out Northern Hemisphere. No time limit. Just one incredible sail to see the world from an ocean view.
Oh, and I have learnt my right from left now. When you do something every day, it becomes automatic.
Follow Emma Ward on – Instagram emma_ward_88. Look her up on Facebook, ask to be her friend and I will confirm our friendship. I look forward to continuing our journey together and share our love of adventure and sailing.