‘I was on a boat at sea with a man I’d met five minutes ago, over the internet. And his large knife’

Every week Dominique tries something different. This week: power-boating

Taking to the water:  “There was a moment, while I was being shown the wonders of a very large penknife, when I realised that I was on a boat at sea with a man I’d met five minutes ago, over the internet.” Photograph: Getty

Taking to the water: “There was a moment, while I was being shown the wonders of a very large penknife, when I realised that I was on a boat at sea with a man I’d met five minutes ago, over the internet.” Photograph: Getty

 

This week I got my power-boat license. A reader emailed with this suggestion, so despite the fact that it is January, I headed off to sea.

As happens to some south Dublin teenagers, I was sent on a sailing course at 15. I spent a few hours in the freezing water before deciding that hiding in the bathroom smoking cigarettes with my friend was preferable. It was day five before we were found out. I haven’t been on a boat in Ireland since.

The rigid-inflatable boat or RIB I was learning on had 150 horsepower, which I’m told is quite impressive. There was some theory and paperwork to do before I got out on the water. My mariner teacher brought me below deck of an impressive yacht where there was heating and tea. I learnt about the rules of sea, life jackets, ropes, radio frequencies and lots of other sea-type things. Did you know channel 16 is the one to use if you find yourself in difficulty at sea? And a red flare signals distress, while an orange flare is used to pinpoint location?

When I say letting her rip of course I mean sensibly increasing the speed by about five knots

A bit like first aid, everyone should probably learn this kind of information. In family conversations we sometimes talk about who, in an post-apocalyptic scenario, we would want on our team. Team qualifications were one of the things that originally drew me to my husband; he can fix basically anything and he’s very strong – both vital end-of-the-world skills. With my new power-boat certificate, I felt I was adding significantly to my “team member” competencies.

There was a moment, while I was being shown the wonders of a very large penknife, when I realised that I was on a boat at sea with a man I’d met five minutes ago, over the internet. But that feeling very quickly subsided as he was a great teacher.

On the water I was a quick learner. We did three-point turns and practiced pulling up to dock but the best bit was letting her rip out in the bay. When I say letting her rip of course I mean sensibly increasing the speed by about five knots. When we got back to the warm luxury of the yacht my face tasted salty and I couldn’t feel my toes. I’m probably more of a land mammal, but this time around the experience was definitely better than smoking in the loo. 

See gosailing.ie 

Do you have suggestions for what Dominique should try next? Email your ideas to dmcmullan@irishtimes.com

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