.............................................................Santa Cruz Wharf...................................................................
I pulled in the sheets tightening up the sails. The boat started to heel most alarmingly. We ploughed wildly towards the wharf, pushing aside the waves thundering underneath heading towards crashing destruction on the beach to our right. The boat leaned over further and further, my wife's eyes got bigger and bigger and pretty soon we were standing almost vertically in the boat, leaning back against the bench with our feet braced on the opposite side of the cockpit. I held the sheets in my hands, ready to let go and release them from their respective clamps should things get any stronger. The tiller was fighting me like a very annoyed mule kicking me in the groin and swinging wildly keeping time with the waves pushing under the boat. Great isn't it? I said through gritted teeth but my wife's brain power was taken up by what was showing through her eyes and she could only nod mutely. I wondered what to do next. The usual northwest wind had obviously backed a little and instead of being deflected by the headland was blowing straight into the harbor mouth and pushing all before it. The Catalina kept going and I watched the rigging wondering which piece would go first under the awful strain and awhat would I do when it did.
And then suddenly we were in the wind shadow, the lee of the point and rather than go crashing helpless into the side of the wharf we levelled off and started to slow down. I threw the tiller over as soon as we regained our footing, took a tack around the end of the wharf and sailed splendidly into the calm blue waters off Cowell's Beach. Families were picnicing, toddlers were splashing in the tiddler sized wavelets lapping the sand. All was well with the world. My wife grinned at me and said that was fun. I would have been scared if you hadn't loooked so happy. For once in my life I was tongue tied and limited myself to nodding cheerfully while I tried to look busy with the slack sails and dormant tiller. It was years before I told her it was among the hairiest rides I'd ever taken. Previously, sailing single handed I had composed myself to die like a gentleman as suggested in the sailing literature, whenever things got out of hand. My wife made it clear she has never had any ambition to die like a gentleman, and would appreciate my cooperation in seeing to it. Thus it was we motored a lot more and sailed a lot less than we might have done and I found it easy not to blame myself for our motoring habit. I was just being a good spouse I'd tell myself as I reached for the starter button, suppressing the innate adventurer as I rolled up the foresail, who would otherwise much prefer, he says, to sail on his ear.
(Photos are stock non copyright photos as I have temporarily mislaid my own supply of sailing pictures.)