On a sunny day last year my husband, Jim, and I decided to go sailing. My sister Kath and her husband Tony joined us as they were visiting us at the time. Our sailing boat is a 30ft sloop and named Rockabill and is easy to manage.
All four of us are pensioners and enjoy good health and vitality. We made a generous picnic and set off for a day’s sailing on Clew Bay which is lorded over by the majestic Creagh Patrick. The sky was a lovely clear blue with occasional fluffy white clouds in the distance. The wind was a light southerly. Wearing our lifejackets, we climbed aboard Rockabill. Jim immediately started giving orders to his ‘crew’. “Turn on the engine”, he shouted from the bow of the boat. I had some experience in sailing so did as I was told and grabbed hold of the tiller. He cast off and we moved away from the mooring. He set the sails as the visitors quietly watched in the cockpit .
Once we were clear of Rosmoney the engine was turned off, sails were hauled and tightened. Kath and Tony were given the job of handling the ropes when we had to go about.
As we reached the lnisgort Lighthouse, Clew Bay lay before us, dominated by the imposing Clare Island, guarding the entrance to the bay. Our destination that day was to the maze of islands on the north side of the bay. We could pick out the shape of lnishoo where we knew there was good anchorage and a great beach. It is one of the hidden gems among the hundreds of islands. The tradition is that there is one for every day of the year but lnishoo was ours alone on that day. Once we arrived Jim threw out the anchor and the sails were safely secured.
Before lunch Kath and Jim ventured into the clear water for a swim. Then we had our delicious lunch. The day was proving to be a very relaxing and enjoyable outing.
Suddenly, Jim said, “This might be a good time to retrieve the main halyard.” He was peering up at the top of the mast. The halyard had got stuck a few days earlier. “But this involves someone going up the mast”. There was long silence until my sister asked, “How do you get up there?” Jim produced the bosun’s chair and explained how it worked.
“All l need now is a volunteer” he was looking at my sister. He knew very well that I wouldn’t do it. Tony’s excuse was that he was the eldest and it wouldn’t be safe for him. Jim’s excuse was that he had to supervise. After a bit of persuasion Kath offered to do the job.
She was strapped into the bosun’s chair and winched up by Jim with some help from Tony and I. She is a slight woman but it was still hard work. Once she reached the top of the 30ft mast she untangled the halyard and got a great cheer from us down below.
“The view is great up here” she shouted, “I’m not coming down yet.”
She remained aloft for ten minutes then came down a lot faster than she went up!
We had a great day out and headed home tired but contented.
My sister is still boasting about her ‘very dangerous climb up the 30ft mast to fix a vital part of the boat’. We will never be allowed to forget it!