Hand cream (and I learned this after the fact) is important; a petroleum jelly-based lotion or possibly just Vaseline or. While your hands will feel incredibly soft after a while at sea, the combination of wearing cold, wet, salty gloves will take its toll. You may find you need to keep your nails short to avoid them breaking, but as soon as you trim them the newly-exposed fingertips will sting from the salt. A couple of weeks after the trip and my fingertips are still peeling off.
I did start putting up nautical terms in everyday use, but they got lost somewhere in the Bay of Biscay, so I’m starting again. Here are two for today.
The bitter end: it sounds like it could be related to bitter irony or something like that. Apparently it comes from the anchor chain, or rope, which was attached to the anchor at one end and to bitts, or posts fastened to the deck. Once you had let out all the rope there was nowhere to go.
Taken aback. Which I was to discover that it was originally ships that were taken aback. ‘Aback’, which once meant ‘to the rear’. If the wind changed suddenly, the sails on a ship would be blown flat against the mast.
James has a book, inherited from his mother, called The Sporting Wife, which I first thought was some sort of soft porn. It is, however, a recipe book featuring all kinds of game dishes and tips on cooking game.
This experience has made me realize that there is a lot about sailing that has taken me completely by surprise – or should I say taken aback, to keep in with the nautical theme? So I thought it might be worth noting a few things for anyone else likely to find themselves in the position in which I found myself starting on the 2nd of April this year.
Mind you, much of what I learned is more relevant to the kind of sailing we did from Portugal to the UK than to our sailing holidays of the past 11 years. But there may be some snippets of information that would be useful to others.
First of all, you can never have too much lip balm. After a few days at sea your lips will start to resemble some form of particularly scaly reptile. Have a few different ones in various safe places – if you have only one or two you will never be able to find them when you desperately need them. And don’t go for the little pots that will require at least two hands; just get sticks with a high SPF.