Hello everyone! Sorry I haven’t posted in anything in a few days, I’ve been swamped (I was up until 11.30pm last night finishing a geography essay). As I have previously mentioned, I am going to be posting some writing on this blog as well as my typical content. The following is a memoir that I wrote for English earlier this year and is a true story. Enjoy, Keira x
The salty water rose up over the side of the boat in a murky wave, breaking on the slippery deck and covering us in its hard, cold spray. I shivered and held onto the mainsail halyard. The coarse, abrasive rope chafed against my hands, rubbing them red and sore. I used my leg to prop myself up, my leg was shaking with the pressure of supporting my weight; I was terrified that I would slip off the high side of the boat and knock my head on the seats on the other side. The boat was keeling over and the water was lapping at the footrails on the other side and the worst was yet to come.
“I can’t stay up here much longer,” I called over the howling wind as more water rose up and crashed onto the deck, making the metal beneath my foot slippery. The winds were the strongest they had been all week and the rest of the crew and I were perched on the top of the cabin and the deck on the side of the boat that reached out of the water in a vain attempt at balancing the boat. Tony, the skipper, was manning the wheel and it was he who answered my plea for help.
“Katie, switch places with Keira, please,” he shouted.
She rolled her eyes before responding: “Okay.” The rest of the crew was a few years older than me and mocked me because of it. My fear at the angle of the boat was obvious, and heightened because it was my first time yacht sailing. Katie, as a dinghy instructor albeit also a newbie to yachts, found it amusing and a little stupid.
I gave the mainsail halyard to Katie, checking that the rope was still stuck in the clutch- if it wasn’t the sail could start flapping and we would stop moving.
Cautiously, I slipped into the hollow between the wheel and the traveller as Katie moved in behind me. Then, as we turned about there was a moment of calm. As Harry and Jack helped switch the shrouds, I climbed into the main deck area and grabbed a safety lead. We came out of the turn and I clambered onto the high side again, this time on the other side of the boat, and clipped myself to the safety straps that ran along the decks.
Just as I began to relax, another wave crashed onto the deck from behind me, giving me no time to prepare for the icy cold. I can’t be sure but I think I remember screaming as the salty spray trickled down the back of my neck and into my shirt. The force of the water pushed me into the middle of the boat in between the benches.
As I recovered my breath, I noticed that between the walls of the cabin, the angle of the boat and the ferocity of the waves was less noticeable. Isabelle, who had been sitting there previously, had moved onto the upper deck so the space was empty; I turned around to face Tony and voiced my idea: “Tony?” I asked, “Is it okay if I sit there?” I pointed to the dry piece of deck that was beckoning me.
Tony nodded and I unclipped myself from the safety strap (or rather, Harry did it for me) and sat down, resting my head against the metal pole to which the sail ties were fastened; it was surprisingly comfortable.
I let out a sigh as I closed my eyes, letting my thoughts carry me away. We wouldn’t be turning for a while, not in this weather, and my mind was weary even if my body wasn’t. I was grateful for any opportunity to relax.
A while later, we rounded the headland and entered a sheltered bay. As we did so, the wind died down, the boat righted itself and the sea turned a brilliant turquoise blue. The sun emerged from behind the dull clouds and lit the world again. A smile crept onto my face and I closed my eyes, absorbing the feel of the heat on my skin. As we began to sail into the harbour, I stood up, stretching slightly and looked around. “Anyone fancy a cup of tea and a biscuit?” I asked.
“Sounds fantastic,” came the reply.
Later, as we sat around the table, sipping our tea, I reflected on the day. I had been terrified of keeling over ever since I had started sailing when I was 11 and although I was still terrified, and I would likely never dare try it without a keel or an instructor (Tony doubled as instructor and skipper for the five day course I was on), I was proud that I had managed to do something I feared so much.