I have never capsized a boat before. And hopefully today won’t be the first time. Our sail guide — a 50-something Brit named Geoff whose leathery complexion suggests a life of sea, salt, and sun — is grinning as he shouts gibberish naval terms to the two landlubbers under his command.
We have no idea what he’s saying.
“Don’t let the jib go!”
The rope slips and a well-meaning, sinewy finger points me in the direction of the boat’s front sail, now resembling a wet towel flapping in the wind.
Oh, that one.
This is a baptism by fire and we’re learning the nautical lingo the hard way. As a 30-knot wind gust hits the boat, throwing it over at a 60-degree angle towards the water, my mind starts to review scenes from Castaway.
Geoff is on the phone. He obviously doesn’t share my concerns.
“Just go with it, mate. Don’t overcompensate,” he shouts across the deck as I fight to manoeuvre the 34-foot yacht away from a seemingly inevitable dip into the azure Coral Sea swell. It turns out sailboats are almost impossible to sink (despite my best efforts). You would need a wave big enough to swallow the entire boat, and even then you would be pretty unlucky.
Typically, sailing types seem to have their loafers and polo shirts passed down through generations, along with obscene amounts of money and regal-sounding family names. However, our band of 20-to-30-something city slickers isn’t doing much to further that stereotype.
The wind settles to a gentle breeze as we round the point at Daydream Island and my knuckles slowly regain some of their former colour. Geoff is still grinning as he jumps off the ship to leave us to our destiny.
“See, that wasn’t too hard now, was it?”