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pulling the sails

published: 2014-12-03

To pull all the sails. It’s a Dutch saying.
In my teens, I went to sailing school in Holland. I can’t think of anything more no-nonsense than Dutch sailing school, especially if you’re coming from Africa.
I have a mental image of me pulling the sails. I can feel the ice-cold knife through my face, my hands are white and purple and about to break in pain as they clench onto wet ropes, snot runs down my chin, hair in my eyes, frozen feet, frozen nose, frozen everything and I’m pushing my full weight against the oar as wind force 6 wind is really wanting to tip me over.
To then pull at those ropes even harder, pull those sails goddammit! Make that picture-perfect loop the instructor called a chicken jibe. And to then hear the instructor say in surprise, “you did it!” as we head back safely to calmer waters.
So pull all those sails a little harder today. I did it, so can you.

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