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It seems a good time to write about something that causes my zygomaticus major muscles to distort my face into expression called SMILE.

Auckland is called the City of Sails – guessing here – that it’s due to the vast numbers of sail boats? sailing clubs? and all other modes of on water motion, that can be seen every day out and about the shores of the city.

When I arrived here back in late April 2013, I started working at a university, where I met (lets call him Bob) an American who is NZ resident of 8+ years now I believe. You get to talk to people, which area do they live, what do the do, etc. etc. One day he mentioned to me that he goes sailing around the harbor on Sundays (during winter season – southern hemisphere) every fortnight and asked if I’d be interested to join. I asked if it’s not a problem in the first place, and what is the deal here, do I have to get a club membership or something, to what he said, nothing at all, just get myself there and maybe get some special water for the crew (by special water I mean beer or rum). I don’t like being a freeloader, so I brought a bottle of rum as a thank you for having me on board.

I usually take spare change of clothes, just in case; something to protect the neck from the cold wind; warm layered clothing; snacks (winter race starts around mid-day and lasts for few hours, depending on weather obviously) and was also informed by Bob that there might be some snacks after the race, and most definitely there would be rum! I have met the boat owner – the captain, and two other crew members, one of which is taking over the captain role when the owner isn’t joining us. There is a number of set courses around set buoys, the current choice is announced once all the boats are out on the water, starting division by division. Usually, there are 4 of us on the boat.
The three of the veterans have been sailing for 20+ years and they do it for the enjoyment of being out on the water, saying that, it’s always great when we are close to the fastest, rather than slowest boat in the division. The boat performs really well in strong winds to be fair, something that Bob mentioned before, it’s quite clear that it does much worse when the wind is weaker. It’s also much more… fun… when it’s windy… if you know what I mean.

I am not that clued up with all the technical terms to be fair (especially that I am not a native English speaker), I try though. When the guys shout “pull the sheet”, my brain instinctively tells my body parts “in doubt, look for the white square cloth, 2 x 2 m…” not the bloody line that goes to the front sail (jib). Set the sail up, wind the line on the winch, cleat the line off, etc. So far, I have avoided injuries or being thrown off the boat by accident or otherwise…

During summer race season (now), the sailing happens every second Wednesday, start at 6.15pm. I leave work 30mins early to walk to the yacht club. With good clear weather it’s sunny until the end of the race. I am a fun of water in general, so I am drawn to it a little more I think. Sunsets over the bay and with the backdrop of the city are great. You get plenty of moments to “pause” and take it all in. You can’t help, but grin! Well, that’s me at least, whatever floats your boat right? 😉

It’s not all sit down, drink cocktails and relax, yet when there is a stretch of course where we don’t need to tag just keep the bearing, the beers come out and you can just enjoy the ride; who would want to stay in the office and work until 5.30pm and miss that, not me. As I said, I am a fun of water in general, and even when it’s cold and windy (especially during the winter race season), it’s a Sunday, a day off for me, so I am more than happy to be out on a boat sailing.

Suffice to say, this summer is my 4th race season I think.

Btw, by my definition – tagging – sudden(?), not necessarily announced(?)… especially with the “spare” captain in charge… change of direction of sailing, swapping the side/position of the main sail and the jib… and all the rush that follows…

A little needs to be said about Bob. He is an outdoors person, an avid diver, with some pretty good underwater photos taken in some amazing places around the world. This post is a little tribute and a thanks to him for inviting me for the sailing (not that I have not said thanks before).
Above all, this is the man “responsible” for suggesting (I took his advice) I go to Tonga, Vava’u islands to get a chance to snorkel with  humpbacks (I did); when I was looking to find a place I could escape to for a while, away from the real world, after the most unpleasant year of my life so far.
And as much as I doubt he will see this post (none of my friends / colleagues actually know I have this blog, they’d probably resent me as a friend if they did, especially some of my views), and even thought I said thanks to him many times, Bob, thank you very much my friend!

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