We were brought crashing down to reality on the evening of the induction, when one of the instructors proceeded to talk for over an hour about the rules of sailing, the multitude of obscure names that seem to have been given to every single parts of a boat and the different sailing strategies. It was pretty hard for us to hide the look of bewilderment and slight terror from our faces as we realized that we had far more to learn in just 2 days that we had ever anticipated.
But we still all turned up at the Marina at 9am sharp on Saturday and met our instructor Graham who turned out to be a very laid back British guy. We walked over to the boat each clutching a Starbucks cup to wake our sleepy minds, not really realizing that even getting onto the boat requires two free hands as an amused Graham pointed out to us.
The weather was not great - drizzly and grey - but because the water was relatively calm, we each leant to tack and jibe for about 4 hours, as well as putting up the sails and trimming them. After lunch and about an hour into sailing, the weather took a turn for the worse and a spectacular storm hit us. Graham had to take over navigation as torrential rain poured down on us and the increasingly big waves and the wildly changing winds made it impossible for us learners to control. We heard a voice on the radio screaming that we had to head back now and so we motored back as fast as possible ... arriving back at the dock completely soaking wet, shivering and frankly quite freaked out. Talk about a first sailing experience! Even Graham seemed a little shaken! We all went home and crashed into bed early, completely exhausted.
Our second day was thankfully much less eventful and more relaxing while still being hard work. Sailing on the Hudson is the equivalent of riding a bike on a busy motor-way as we had to navigate through the ferries, cruise ships and tankers much larger than us.
I can't recommend it highly enough though. It's a brilliant but tiring and surprisingly physical experience, with the Manhattan skyline as the most stunning background.
And according to the diplomas we were given for passing the course at the end of the weekend, we should now be all addressed as "Hey Sailor!" :)