Captain's Table

Mark Austen

2018.05.02 - What Makes a Sail Enjoyable?

Those of you that read my other site will know that despite being wet, cold, tired, in pain and with the wind against me, last Friday I had the most fantastic sail that I have had since I sailed past the Atlantic coast of Spain towards the Straits of Gibraltar surrounded by thousands of dolphins. That trip was in the early 1990s. But what was it that made this trip so good that the discomforts paled into insignificance? What was it about the trip on Friday that had me smiling even as I shivered with cold?

Indeed an even better question would I have enjoyed it so much if I had been comfortable?

From a sailing point of view, the wind was not on the nose but from about 2 o'clock as I looked down the river. With the propensity of the wind to follow the course of the river, this did not change, or not by much, as I progressed along the Great Ouse from Littleport despite the many twists and turns in the river. This mean that the starboard tack, the one with the wind on my starboard side, was a long one and the port tack a short one almost directly across the river.

Surprisingly the high banks did little to affect the wind but the trees and houses on the bank did, entirely as expected.

So the wind allowed me to make quite good progress sailing down river and in one or two places I managed to skirt the river bank for some distance before having to put in the short tack.

I dare say that I would have enjoyed the sail a lot if it had not been raining and it had been warm but I think that there was also an additional element of enjoyment because of the discomforts, a 'beating the odds' sort of thing that magnified the enjoyment.

All subjective of course but interesting to think about all the same.

However, I don't think I'm going to set out in the rain anytime soon just to find out.