A tale of three captains
The winds have been described as “changeable” by Jeff, the laconic manager of the boat hire shed. He’s just shown us the ropes on the three catamarans our group is hiring for a sunny afternoon’s sailing on Lake Jindabyne in NSW’s Snowy Mountains. We’ve already mountainbiked part-way around the lake, swum in its cool waters and walked to the impressive dam wall via the pretty town from which the lake takes its name. Now we have the chance to explore its surface.
We watch the white caps dance as another gust sweeps in. The sailors in our party are either unperturbed, or bluffing to conceal their anxiety. Our “captains” comprise one experienced yachtie, another who is confident he can recall the art of tacking and jibing last practised 20 years ago and a third who says little but nods knowingly. (In the interests of preserving friendships and marriages, our “captains” will not be identified. They will simply be referred to as Man A, Man B and Man C.)
Jeff suggests we take the three cats on a trial run directly across the little bay in which they are moored to make sure they’re in good hands. Jokingly, he makes some disparaging remarks about troublesome past customers and advises the cost of any rescue is a case of beer.
Man A hops confidently aboard his sailboat with two of the boys in our party, lowers the rudder, swings the tiller around and is on his way, straight across the bay as instructed. Man B also takes a young passenger and is soon tacking adeptly in the same direction.
I am invited to join Man C, and we take off in an alarmingly different direction to the one advised by Jeff. But we have the wind in our sails and all is going swimmingly ... until it’s not.
We are in a pocket where it seems impossible to catch the breeze. The little wind-direction tell-tales on the sail flop pathetically. We struggle to turn the cat around, jerking the rudder to try and create momentum. Sitting becalmed and frustrated, we watch as Man B happily whips back and forth across the lake.
After 15 minutes of profanities and a near-mutiny,
Sailing catamarans on Lake Jindabyne