“Even dangerous situations become bumps in the road when two people use their love and teamwork to resolve them.”
The yellow gybe sheet was luffing and flapping in the stiff breeze which blustered through the valleys from Snowdon. Hitting lake Llyn Gwynant they slowed to a gentle breeze forming shallow waves on the water. Zach hauled on the running lines just until the sail calmed, completing his new trim sheet. He allowed his eyes to play over the stunning wooded, stark green and grey hills about him and grinned with content.
“Tack complete my pretty, Helms-girl,” he called with his eyes upon Helen at the tiller. He loved the way her warm brown eyes twinkled as she concentrated on her heading. The way her pigtails caught the sun as they blew about her ears mesmerized him.
“Well done my princely, crewman,” she replied. The feeling of the boat racing along its current tack was a thrill. The group of greylag geese forced to move out of the boat’s wake disagreed.
“I’m so glad Awstin has been delayed. I fear we wouldn’t have gotten to sail together if he came straight away,” Zach said adjusting his buoyancy aid. Comfortable, he began leaning from the boat to counterbalance it over a slight bounce in the waves.
“No, we’re just bound to be running all over Wales on our adventures soon.” Helen saw a change in the water’s colour – a wind shift was taking place. She glanced about her checking her distance between the other sailboats, canoes and Kayaks. “Ready about!” she called while beginning to sheet in the mainsail.
Zach checked the centreboard, readied the gybe sheet and checked his surroundings “All clear, ready to tack.” His attention now fixed on the white sail boom. It is a fact, more people get injured by being slugged by the fast-moving boom during gybe and tack manoeuvres than any other way in sailing.
Helen moved the tiller leeward and positioned herself in the centre of the boat. “Tack-ho!” For half a blissful second Helen and Zach locked eyes in a pauciloquent conversation of love and happiness.
He gave a little confident nod as the boom began to move.
Helen returned an affectionate smile. “Hard alee!” Pushing the tiller into the turn across the wind, she ducked the boom and set her balance on the windward side of the boat.
At the same time, Zach loosed the gybe sheet, ducked the boom, crossed the boat, and picked up the new gybe sheet. He balanced the boat on the new windward side and began to trim in again. “Woo yeah! This is so much fun!”
“Yeah, sweetheart. I love this! Tack complete and beautiful!” Helen switched hands on the tiller and mainsail as she settled her new tight hauled tack along the lake. A good sailor always kept a tight haul. Going too wide almost always led to capsizing unless the crew were very skilled.
“You’re beautiful. The tack was just nicely done,” Zach told her affectionately while adjusting the leech line.
Helen changed her windward tack a couple more times as she and Zach sailed along the glacial-formed lake. The two giggled and laughed at each other all the way. They were sobered all too soon by the sight of a white Octavia car heading along the road from Betws-y-Coed.
“I think that’s Awstin with lunch. Unfortunately, we better head back.” Zach sighed he was loving being on the water with Helen. He’d have happily stayed in the little sloop sailboat with her all day.
“Yes, that’s him.” Helen agreed while surveying her route back. Seeing her way was clear, she began to luff up and sheet in the mainsail, slowing the vessel for the turn. “Ok, my handsome, crewman. Stand by to gybe.”
“Aw, bugger! I was hoping you were going to say ‘stand by to kiss’ then.” Zach gave a cheeky grin while checking his centreboard and ensuring the way was clear as he hauled on the gybe sheet.
Helen giggled at him and gave him an alluring look. “Don’t worry my love plundering, crewman. Helen has a special kiss for you when we make land again.”
“Aye, milady. We go straight to bed when we become landlubbers once more. Avast! We be clear to gybe,” Zach remarked like a gravelly pirate.
Helen began the leeward turn with a push of the tiller and a chuckle. “If only we could, lovely. Gybe-ho!” she called while applying the full turn into the downwind direction.
At once Zach released the gybe sheet and swore as he changed sides of the boat.
Helen centred herself, ducked the boom and brought the tiller back to the middle. By then the gybe sheet was flapping about off the mast. Helen quickly trimmed the mainsail to the new heading but could see Zach was struggling. The flapping gybe sheet was making the vessel rock in the water He was trying desperately to free it while struggling to stay on board. “What happened sweetheart?” she called.
“Sorry, Helen. I was too slow in releasing the gybe sheet. The crosswind we created in the turn whipped it around the forestay and halyard,” he replied looking furious with himself.
“Hey, don’t worry. It was probably my fault for turning too fast. Can you free it?” Helen wouldn’t let him take the blame for something she had a part in. She certainly wouldn’t let him self-flagellate himself over something like this. A while ago she learned the reward of sharing everything with Zach and that included a part in any trouble that occurred.
“Thank you, precious. I’m working on it. Can you keep her as steady as possible so I don’t end up in the drink?” Zach focused his work on the halyard, running ropes and the forestay to create a little slack to work with.
“Okay, let me see what I can do to help.” Helen knew she had to slow the boat. She steered as close to being caught in the irons as possible. The ‘irons’ is the direction where the boat points directly into the wind. The position also called ‘Doldrums’ flattens the sails and stops all headway. Putting the boat at about forty degrees off the wind, allowed Helen to keep the boat moving forward slowly without becoming stuck in those doldrums.
Zach was pleased. The slow speed took the billow from the sail, stopping it flapping and reducing the danger. It enabled him to quickly pull the gybe sheet free, drop and re-rigged it.
“Yay well done, sweetheart,” cheered Helen as he cranked it back up, luffed and began to trim it again.
Zach took a funny little bow only to hear applause off the port bow. He turned to see a fellow glide up in his sleek scarlet canoe.
“Nicely done, Zach. I saw the gybe catch from the shore and figured you might need help. It seems you both did a marvellous job of staying calm and got it under control though,” he remarked. “Oh, Cousin, Helen. Awstin’s arrived with lunch as well.”
“Thanks, Simon. We’re tacking in now. We gybe-turned too quick, I think. Luckily Zach remembered what to do about it.” Helen feathering the tiller to increase her wind speed a little.
“He did well. Last time I got a gybe sheet stuck, I was out here with Bethan. It stuck just like yours did. I was working on freeing off the running rigging when the sheet freed itself. I got slapped clean off the boat!” Simon revealed making his cousin laugh at the thought. “Bethan laughed so much, she couldn’t bring the boat around to rescue me!” he added with a chuckle of his own.
“Poor thing. We’ll always come and get you,” Helen told him. “We love it out here. We could sail about all day in blissful happiness.”
“I’m glad you love it. As my special cousin and her great man, you are always welcome anytime you like. You don’t even have to pay. Just let me know you’re coming and your cabin will be waiting for you,” Simon invited.
“Thank you, mate. We’ll take you up on that.” Zach replied now he was fully in control of the gybe sheet again. He meant to return here at least once a year with Helen. Llyn Gwynant was paradise to him.
“I have to tack again now, Simon. We’ll see you onshore.”
“Aye, Captain Helen,” Simon saluted then paddled clear of the little yellow sloop. With a smile on his face, he watched the couple almost effortlessly sail back to the jetty. He knew they did so on the power of their love and teamwork alone.
Have a great day!