I always had issues with left and right. I don't know why that is but I was worried it would prevent me from being a script supervisor, as being able to determine in a split second if something was happening on the actors right or left vs camera right or left is rather vital to the role (whatever is in the actor's right hand is on the left side of the screen when viewing, what we in the industry call 'camera left'). I have to admit, it took a long time for it to become second nature and, in the beginning, I had several moments of panic where continuity was involved and I wasn't sure if I'd mixed the two up.
So when I have to pull or push a tiller in the opposite direction I want the boat to go, well - lets just say I find it a challenge. Yesterday this became a bit of an issue.
I finally got to go sailing. A friend has just moved here from the east where he has a sailboat on one of the lakes there. He purchased the exact same sailboat here on the west coast, and yesterday he took me out for my first sailing lesson on a proper big (30') sailboat (I did have one lesson on a very small sailboat a year or so ago). I was very excited at the prospect of finally getting out on the water again, especially on such a gorgeous day. Not a cloud.
When we got to the boat, my friend John gave me great instructions as to various pieces of equipment and how they function. He is a really patient teacher and I appreciated that. Some of the things he told me I already knew well from my days of boating with my in-laws, but that was motor boating so there's lots more to learn when sailing. Some of what he told me I had learned by reading sailing books but I learn better when seeing so it really helped to have the practical application right in front of me, plus I really needed to refresh my memory as it's been a while since I read up on the topic. I learned when a line becomes sheet or a halyard; I learned the name for various parts of the sail and which sail is which, and I learned how to operate the winches.
At this marina, it is just a short motor down a canal to the open water. Once we were out of the canal, the wind was at 8 knots and John wanted my first sail to be a comfortable one so he put up the head sail only and we headed downwind. After a short while, he handed the tiller off to me and pointed out a landmark far ahead to aim for. Reminding myself to 'move it in the opposite way I want to go' I grabbed onto the tiller and maintained a fairly steady course - not that easy at first but I soon got the hang of it. After a while - it didn't feel like all that long but later I realized it was almost an hour later - the wind started to pick up a little and John decided to turn the boat about and try sailing into the wind. Once we turned around, our speed dropped and the waves seemed so much choppier - we had the engine on the whole time we were out as, when attempting to first start the engine, it wouldn't due to the batteries being very low so John wanted to get them back up. Shortly after coming about the wind picked up considerably and it wasn't long before it was blowing at 18 knots. John decided to roll up the sail and motor back to the marina. He handed me the tiller again and went forward to roll the sail. That's when things got scary.
Before things got scary
John was sure the wind would die down once we got into the shelter of the canal, and it did a little but only to about 12 knots and the sail was still flapping madly in the wind. When we had motored out of the canal, John had pointed out a customs dock to me. We were coming up to it now and there was a man standing at the end and he motioned for us to come alongside. Instead, John pointed that we were going further up to the marina and kept going past. I almost said earlier that we should pull up to that dock to fix the sail before we attempted to get into the slip but I decided not to say anything; after all, I was the novice and John has sailed for a decade and races his sail boat back east as well as crewing on racing boats. I figured he knew what he was doing but it turned out that was where we made our second critical mistake; we should have pulled up there and fixed the sail.
Breathing a huge sigh of relief, we were now able to fix the sail, unrolling and re-rolling it. Then I got off and helped to guide the boat out of the slip by holding on to the toe rail as John backed up, and then running down to his slip to help guide it in.
After a much needed bathroom break, we settled onto the boat to enjoy the sunshine and the lunch I had packed and talked about all that had contributed to what had happened. John said that, in the almost dozen times he's taken the boat out since buying it, the wind had never picked up like that and it had never gone above 10 knots. Figures it would do that on MY first time out. He felt badly as he had said when we started out that he wouldn't put the mainsail up as it would make the boat heel over quite far probably making me nervous and he wanted my first time sailing to be a fun and pleasant experience. Well... it was up until we brought the boat about. At one point, when John was trying to get the boat to port after I couldn't, I thought for sure we were going to be dashed on the rocks that were getting closer and closer. It probably wasn't something that would terrify the seasoned sailor, but it sure did me.
If I ever get the hang of sailing and if I ever get to have my own boat.... it won't have a tiller, that is for sure. Although John claims the only 'real' sailing is by tiller, I will be fine to 'pretend' sail with a wheel.