Cuba: A Sail and the Beach
Down at the beach area from the resort they had little sailboats that many of these types of resorts have. I’m not an expert sailor in any way, but I have sailed a bit and took a few classes. Looking out at the massive blue ocean, we decided to go and take one of the little boats out. There were two guys working, and we went over to ask about the boat. In broken English, he told us that they were about ready to close down for the day. I asked if they would be available the next day? The guys said they wouldn’t. I asked if we could take one out for a quick sail then and he said yes. He asked me if I had any experience, so I told him yes. He asked how much. I responded with my experience level and then he moved on to the next person who walked up. Not to sound pompous, but I had never sailed a boat this small before, so as I was dragging it out to the water, I could see what looked like the keel attached to a rope. I asked the guy, is that the keel? He said something to me I couldn’t understand and told me to hurry up. I asked him for a little assistance, and he helped me drag the boat into the water, and I asked again about the keel, this time pointing at it. He asked if I had ever tipped a boat over before, and I said no. His response was, “You said you sailed before.” I responded with, “never on a boat this small.” He said something about using the keel looking thing to right the boat if it tipped over and walked away, proving to be the least helpful guy at the resort we had encountered. This is where my ignorance comes in. I just assumed with little boats like this that they don’t use a keel and the thing was for the sole purpose of righting the boat if it tipped over. If the boat tips slide it in the slot and use it to stand on while pulling on the rope to lift the mast, seemed like simple enough directions.
So we hopped in and were on our merry way. For anyone who doesn’t know, the keel goes down through the center of the boat under the water. Its purpose is to help stabilize the boat and keep it on course as it cuts through the water. Sailing without one, for a person with limited experience, and who hadn’t sailed in a long time was challenging. Yet, I managed to keep the boat from tipping over as it constantly felt like it was about to happen and managed to start doing a bit of a loop before heading back in. We were sailing back with the wind coming hard on the port (left) side of the boat basically sliding us across the water towards the beach where we ended up in the waves and washing ashore to the astonishment of the people who had been sunbathing and swimming but were now watching the silly couple slide sideways to the beach. The little sailboat flipped on its side from the force of the small rolling waves crashing on the beach and wind in the sale, forcing one guy to dive under the water to avoid being hit by the mast. The other guy working at the sailing place came over, said something that I didn’t understand and quickly slid the keel through the center hole of the boat, the one that I had pointed at earlier asking if that was what I was supposed to do with no helpful response. He didn’t respond to me as I tried to point that out, and that I had asked about it. He jumped in and sailed off to take the boat back.
Feeling frustrated, and a bit embarrassed, we went back to the pool and a swim to the bar in the pool for a drink.
FYI – they were open the next day, although I didn’t go try to take a boat out after the previous days’ experience.