“Just hear those ships bells jingling, ring-ting-tinglaing, toooooo….come on its lovely weather for a rum filled sailor or twooooooooo. At sea the wind is howling and friends are calling YO-HO, come on it’s lovely weather for a downwind sleigh-ride HO-HO!”
“Sonrisa, I don’t think those are the words.” Grin interrupts.
“What? Of course those are the words.”
“Noooooo. It’s “hear the sleigh bells ringing” and “its lovely weather for a sleigh ride, together, with you. Outside the snow is falling and friends call You-Who, not Yo-Ho.”
“What the hell is You-Who? That makes no sense. It’s obviously Yo-Ho. I sing this song every year, I know.”
Grin shakes his head and mutters under his breath “Crazy old bat.”
“No, I swear! These are the words! Leslie, put on that Christmas song about the sleigh rides! Listen, Grin.”
Leslie obliges and we all listen closer together. I hum and sing along with the wor… Grin looks at me with his head cocked and his eyebrow raised. “See.”
“Uhhh! Ooooohhhh…… I always thought…. Well, I like my version much better!” I carry on singing, my way. “Giddy Up Giddy Up Giddy Up Let’s Go! We don’t want to sail slow. We’re riding in a westward current flow! Giddy Up Giddy Up Giddy Up it’s grand, many miles from land! We’re sailing a long with this song in a tropical wonderland!”
“Stop, just stop….” Grin says.
“Our cheeks are nice and rosy, sailors drunk and wozy are weeee….”
“Wozy isn’t even a word, Sonrisa! You’re just making things up now.”
“Full sails are up together, perfect wind and weather we’ll see…. Let’s take this route before us and sing a chorus or threeeeee, come on it’s lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with meeee.”
“SSSSSSSTOOOOPPPPPPP!” Grin shakes himself back and forth, up and down, yanking on his tether and smashing my hull with his bow.
“Okay, okay, okay.” I stop and look down at him. I guess I’ll have to change tack.
“Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way! Oh what fun, it is to ride in a downwind sailing sleigh - HEY!”
As you can tell, I am in the Christmas Spirit even more this year then most. I have my sailors aboard two years in a row and this year they are dressing me in a whole new wardrobe. I couldn’t be happier. As soon as our Thanksgiving guests left, Andrew and Leslie strung my Christmas lights down below, put up my Christmas Tree, and commenced with the usual Post-Thanksgiving-Tradition, the annual viewing of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation on my “big screen”. They were too full for popcorn, but in the Spirit of Christmas, Leslie donned her gift from Linda and Steve and pretended it is cold enough to wear socks. I look so festive!
We all spent the next few days in the marina (with that damn air conditioner turned on full blast) so Captain Andrew could complete a few maintenance items he’s been intending to manage for me, Leslie processes photos from the Tanjung Roo experience, and the bad weather passes. When the sun finally peaks out, it gets muggy and hot. Andrew and Leslie spend their afternoons enjoying icy cold grog at the pool bar or a glass of wine at the beach happy hour spot.
Then, the moment I’ve been waiting for ever since we arrived in Langkawi has come. It’s time to pick up my new sails!!!
Back in October when we first arrived, Andrew introduced me to Phillip Auger of Zoom Sails and his frisbee-sized roll of measuring tape. Philip is like the Ralph Lauren, Tom Ford, or Valentino Garavani for sailboats. He climbed aboard, slathered on a layer of sunscreen, and looked skyward to my rigging.
“Hold this here,” He told Andrew, who dutifully takes one end of the measuring tape and holds it in just the spot Philip instructs. Philip stretched the measuring tape here and there, making notations in his notebook. He recently made a wardrobe of new sails for two of my sister ships who sailed through this way, so he knows just how to dress a lady with my style of curves and triangles.
Once things are measured, Phillip and my sailors meet in my cockpit to discuss the fabric for my sails, the thread. They mull over any changes we might make from my prior set of sails.
“Your reef points for the main sail are very shallow, do you want to keep them that way?” He asks.
Andrew, Leslie and I consult. Reef points are important when it comes to managing a smooth(er), faster sailing experience. If the wind gets too heavy, a full big sail catches too much and it tips me too far on my side. This is uncomfortable for everyone involved, and it actually slows me down. I have a “sweet spot” where I am both as fast as I will go and as comfortable as can be. You want to set the sails to balance me there - not too much and not too little. So, when the wind gets heavier, we “reef” my sail to make it smaller. We pull down layers of the sail until we get to reef point one, two, or three depending on how heavy the wind is. The sail that is catching wind gets much smaller, and we tie the extra fabric in a bundle at the bottom to keep everything tidy.
When Phil says our reef points aren’t very deep now, he means that they don’t shrink the sail all that much. This is true. We never use reef point one because it makes almost no difference. Either you do not need a reef or you need two reefs with the way my mainsail is currently designed. .
“If we take the South Africa route, I think it will be more convenient to have deeper reefs.” I say, Andrew and Leslie nod with approval. Phil scratches down the information.
With all on-deck measurements taken, Phil, Andrew and Leslie go to shore with my genoa (the biggest forward sail) to stretch it out (In a pile of dog poo) and measure the old sail.
“What’s that smell?” Andrew says as they discover what they had done.
“Don’t tell Sonrisa!” Leslie says with horror. What do I care? That old sail is history.
Once everything was measured, all we could do is wait.
When it feels like I cannot wait one minute more, I see Grin crossing the anchorage loaded to his water line with crew members and bulging bags of sails.
They pull along side and unload two of three bags onto my deck with a thud. Andrew leaves Leslie aboard to return to shore and pick up Phil and my new main sail. I watch as Leslie drags the largest of the three sails to the forward part of my bow one scoot at a time. Even the bag the sail in is beautiful! Grey, with a fresh and unfrayed draw string, and a panel of cross hatching to let air flow into the bag to avoid mildew when the sails are stored away. “Wow!” I say, “look at that bag!” It’s not long before everyone is aboard flitting and fussing about. We unroll each sail, admire the stitching, the sun protection, the reinforced reef points, the shiney stainless steel hoop on the clue. The white is white, the blue is deep navy. “Ahhh!” A note of appreciation escapes my lips as I listen to the flutter of that crisp, thick Dacron fabric. It makes the same sound as a saw you might wobble back and forth to simulate the sound of thunder in a school play.
Andrew cranks and cranks on my halyard winch as Phil guides the sails into place, Leslie bounces from one angle to the next to get the right view. Genoa, jib, and main sail…
By the end of the afternoon, my sail are all installed, and I’m ready to go. The wind, however, is not., and my hull wallows in the glassy reflection of a flat calm. Andrew and Leslie load into Grin with Phil, and they all head to shore to meet Phil’s wife Astrid and their cute little son for lunch. As they buzz away, I hear Grin grumbling.
“Why does she get new sails? It’s not even Christmas, yet. When do Kitty and I get a new engine motor mount? Why do you love Sonrisa better than me?. It’s not fair…”
I giggle. Little does Grin know, every day is Christmas for a well loved sailboat.