I thought your readers might be interested in a a small nautical tale from my past life.
Before we came to live in lovely, civilised, safe Mallorca, Elaine and I spent three years on the East African Island of Zanzibar. We had a bar and restaurant on the high tide line and one of the additional projects we set up was a windsurfer and dinghy hire with tuition for both. The windsurfer side was quite busy and relatively easy to supervise but dinghies took a lot more vigilance. Having had some hirers who claimed proficiency only to have to launch the rescue boat almost immediately to save them and my equipment, I developed a pre hire interrogation technique. One day I was approached by a late twenty something year old Brit who wished to hire a dinghy for the day. His answers to my questions were, to say the least vague, leaving me unconvinced about the competence of the aspiring hirer.
"Done much sailing?"
"Yeah, a fair bit"
"What do you normally sail, cruisers, dinghies, windsurfers ?"
"Bit of everything, really"
The questioning continued but I could find no reassurance of the guy´s competence. With some reservations, I took a hefty deposit off him, and between us we took the dinghy down to the waters edge where, as I rigged it up, I talked him through the basics.
"If you get hit by a gust, and it feels you might be going over, crack off the main sheet a bit. That´s that rope there"
"If you really get overpowered, just drop the headsail altogether and come back on the main."
As I talked him through I could see he was really trying to take in all my words of advise, his concentration manifesting itself in a faraway look in his glazed eyes, whilst his fingers drummed quietly on the foredeck.
Having completed my mini sailing tuition session, we put the boat in the water and almost without a "goodbye" or "see you later" my pupil got in the boat and quite confidently sailed off into the Indian Ocean.
Feeling proud of my educational skills I returned to less interesting task of restaurant management.
Several hours later my dinghy re-appeared on the horizon, and in no time at all the boat was ashore, derigged and my hirer sitting at the bar sipping a cold beer whilst I counted out his deposit. He stayed for an hour or say, chatting generally, he really was a very pleasant chap, and later he booked one of our beach bungalow's for a week.
Strange, uncommon name though... Ian Percy.
(Ian Percy is a UK Olympic Gold medal holder for sailing, and in that year was taking a brief holiday before going to the States to coach the new U.K. sailing Squad!)
Best regards, Oliver Cheetham.
Portos Wine Bar - Porto Cristo