Confession: I find everything to do with our tender (aka dinghy) challenging.
Our tender (lovingly named Waiata Iti) is a centre console model, so in essence, driving her should be like just driving a car. She is a Highfield 340CL with a 20 horsepower Honda motor.
I have driven many cars in my life – manual and automatic varieties ranging from my sexy silver Audi TT to a series of majestic brand-new Mazda’s, from an old pregnant roller-skate looking eggshell blue Fiat 500 Bambina to Greg’s souped-up black Holden Colorado man-truck. So, one would imagine that with all that capability, being able to drive a dinghy would be a cinch, right?
Incorrect! Driving the tender is more than a challenge. The truth is that even boarding the vessel is always a fumbling tumble type of embarrassment and I’m not sure why it is such a challenge for me. The Captain is always encouraging saying ‘keep your head looking up’ and ‘transfer your weight gently into the tender and just step in’. This is far easier said than done. I have not (yet anyway) tumbled fully overboard but in brief, the tender is my nemesis. I find it scary. Although some of you may recall my gymnastical attempt to board the tender way back in Finistere (Spain) last July/August that didn’t go so well to plan. Even in thigh-high water, I managed to fire off my own life jacket into my own face.
It’s not that we haven’t put the time in. Way back when we were in the Hamble in Hampshire, England, the Captain, and I would go up and down the river, and I managed to get the hang of fairy gliding quite well way back then. Perhaps it’s simply that I’m not current in tender driving and I need to conquer it.
It is such a mental block for me that two days ago, the Captain was going out to take care of some business, so he drove us in the tender to the local dock where the fishermen come and go with their catch. I anticipated hanging around just tied up to the dock and waiting for his return, but with the strong winds here his decision was for me to return to the boat. This meant I had to actually drive myself back, navigate my way around the rocks, and successfully tie myself back up at Waiata until he called for a pickup. And then navigate back. I managed to get myself back to Waiata safely, albeit at a slow swimming pace.
About an hour after I had successfully conquered the challenge of returning to the boat, the Captain phoned, and it was time for me to return and pick him up from the fishing dock. I was so focused on ensuring that I missed any rocks and the reef I had to pass, that I headed for the white building and beach I could see ahead of me. If you’ve been to Mykonos (or any part of Greece before for that matter), you’ll know it is all white buildings and beaches. So, there I was heading as fast and safely as I could toward the beach with the white building in front of me that it wasn’t until I was almost there that I realised I was not even headed in the right direction. I had failed to turn port (left) when I passed the reef and so there was the Captain, watching the cogs of my brain slowly figure out I was headed in the wrong direction and trying to get my bearings. A prompt 90-degree turn and a couple of km’s off target, but I eventually headed in the right direction to collect my guy.
As I approach driving the dinghy he says ‘now lift the engine a little’ – good. Then ‘slow the engine down as you get close to the dock’ – tick. Now, ‘put it in reverse a little’ – at which point the tender roared backward as I was a little too heavy on the throttle. I made this reversing mistake twice. My heart races with terror in the fears of doing something wrong of breaking our tender. The Captain is patient and thankfully it is the off-season here so there wasn’t much of an audience to witness the embarrassment that is me in charge of the tender. Just a few of the workmen preparing the hotels for tourists in a few weeks and a couple of old fishing fellas.
Any day soon I intend to conquer her. Waiata Iti. She is our car. Our set of wheels. Our mode of transport to freedom off the boat. She is how we do our groceries, go for coffee, and get to shore. For now, at every given opportunity I have the Captain to chauffeur me, but I need to get over it. This is my current challenge – conquering Waiata It.