Michaela Merz

Freedom and its consequences

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I love to sail the catamaran (Hobby Cat). That thing can be very fast and with wind force 5 BF one flies over the waves like a weightless bird.

I am a passionate sailor and prepared to endure some pain for the feeling of boundlessness in time and space. Since I am not a very good sailor but just a passionate one, my boat causes quite some pain to me. Don’t get me wrong. Masochism is not my scene. It’s just that if one hangs outside the boat and a gust of wind comes, every mistake is punished brutally by hitting some part of the body to one or another rope (and certain ropes are made of steel).

But what I experience on board is hard to describe. Apart from the thrill of speed when one sails on one skid, the waves splashing one with cold water and the wind drying the drops within seconds from the glasses, it is the absolute concentration, the tension of all muscles in the body, the quietness apart from the rustling of the wind and the rolling of the sea. There are moments, which seem to be from another world, when a dolphin swims parallel to the boat, changes direction with the boat and gives me the feeling to play with me.

Or the day before, when I saw something huge in the water and drove towards it and saw that it was a huge sea turtle which seemed to be hurt. Anxiously I turned the boat to see what’s wrong with the majestic animal. What a relief to see that it swam fit as a fiddle and completely well in the direction of Africa.

Sailing a catamaran is a contact sport with the boat. My countless bruises, abrasions and blisters on the hands from the ropes bear evidence of the intensity and my error rate. I know that I will pay the price every time, just never in advance which one and how bad it will be.

After the encounter with the turtle I accelerated and flew with the wind over the waves in a contest which cannot be won. Then the gust of wind came unexpectedly and completely mean and since I was sailing on the edge and had not expected the gust, I was flying once again through the air, against the steel rope holding the mast.

I was braked with my throat. I ran out of air and everything went black for a moment. It did not hurt but felt more like a lump in the throat and I had to cough and choke. It was a fierce hit to the airway in the throat.

The throat felt very unpleasant and then the pain came. Back in the harbour I looked into the mirror and saw a red line on my throat and some bruises as well. It looked as if an amateur had tried without success and without anatomic knowledge to strangle me.

Now I know what it feels like to be choked fiercely and how fast it can happen. Thank god nothing happened apart from the many bruises. I thank my guardian angel who thank god did not go on holidays.

But it cannot spoil sailing a catamaran for me. Where else one can experience the feeling of boundless freedom (even though I know that every freedom will have its consequences)?

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