Waiting is part of sailing

Waiting is part of sailing. For weather, for tide through refit and during postponements of a race’s start. In all these I and every sailor, wait in eager expectation of the moment at which our vessel again cleaves the water, a growing wake behind her.

These waits are mostly short, or at least have a planned for ending. Trilleen and I are in a different sort of waiting, one without known end as we together await the manufacture and arrival of a new mast. The old was destroyed an inexcusable handling accident at Inverness Marina, which only makes it worse since I bear the consequences of damage in which I did not cause.

Unfortunately Trilleen was already afloat and fully commissioned by the time it was agreed that she should be re-masted. So I have been waiting here, patiently, asking, enquiring and seeking with increasing urgency details of a delivery date for this new mast. We expected a delivery about the time I publish this in early July. Unfortunately due to a number of further unaccountable errors I find that we are in fact, no further forward than the day it was agreed Trilleen needed to be re-masted many many weeks ago. This is devastating news.

Serious damage to jib foil after impact to Trilleen's rig

Commissioning and decommissioning even a small boat like Trilleen is hard work. It entails shifting the best part of a ton of stores. Doing this with any disability is bitter work: exhausting, painful and unproductive in equal measure. For that reason I’ve kept Trilleen in commission during the long wait, but now it may not be sensible to continue in that way, since I might be facing another ten or more weeks of waiting. I hope it will be less, but at present I can have no certainty on any details.

I thought that I was mentally equipped for waiting, having dealt with the many interminable waits of disability: to see a specialist for one thing, to be on the waiting list for another (yes waiting lists are a thing for those of you in North America). It turns out I was horribly wrong. I am really bad at waiting when the promise of fun, beauty and joy near at hand – but unreachable. This summer in Scotland has seen some of the best weather in decades, and I am confronted daily by the procession of yachts from Scandinavia towards the West and the Americas towards the east.

This deficiency in my waiting skills is an important lesson as I contemplate more solo sailing projects beyond this Round Britain and Ireland sail. As a sailing mentor pointed out the loss of a mast – or equally critical part – could happen anywhere – abroad or at home and the implications of that for planning future projects are striking. I have taken note that it isn’t only the sea conditions that can knock a sailing project flat. I’m busy adjusting and adapting skills intended to support good living with disability and pain to develop what I guess is sporting resilience too.

It is true that in this wasted time I have done lots of boat jobs that have been looking at me for too long and in doing them increased the liveability of the boat significantly. I’ve also been able to write a disability pilot guide to the Caledonian Canal System. Overall though as I watch the passing of the Simmer Dim – where the midsummer days doubt their duty to admit the night, it feels a wasted summer. My only consolation is that despite the excellent weather the winds have been extremely light and passage reports from cruises in the Western Isles show yachts have been under engine for a great deal of time.

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