‘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
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.
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