Michaela Merz

Capsized again

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324052_web_r_k_b_by_kerstin-littke_pixelio-deThe bay is large, huge. You need binoculars even to be able to identify correctly the small yachts at the far end of the bay. The coloured sails help, the white sails mix with the colour of the water and disappear. Today the weather is strange. Cloudy and somehow bleak, but as the weather changes very quickly, that does mean anything. There is a light wind, maybe rather too light. I decide not even to put on the trapeze. On the other hand the full gear, as I always do when I go for a sail. The wet suit in spite of it being quite hot, gloves, shoes and a cap, which I fasten tightly under my chin, The lifejacket and the sunglasses. It is really not very windy, when I put to sea and apart from a few lonely large boats the lagoon is empty. I set sail relaxedly and let my thoughts flow freely, gazing at the horizon. It is a good feeling of freedom and self-determination.

I want to get to the end of the bay, turn and sail back. It is getting dark, but I put that down to my sunglasses. As I turn towards the distant beach, I see threatening black clouds racing from the mainland towards the sea, and therefore in my direction. In a flash I consider the alternatives. Returning seems difficult to impossible. Putting ashore this side of the bay is difficult, because it’s stony. I would have to reach a sandy beach and pretty quickly at that, because if there were a thunderstorm with lightning, I would be a super target. My boat’s mast is metal. I’d hardly have a chance.

The wind was growing stronger and was racing towards the stony beach. It was getting ever darker and started to rain. And suddenly there was a strong gust of wind, it snatched my cap tied on my head and at that moment of surprise and lack of attention I made a mistake and capsized. The catamaran’s mast tilted as if in slow motion and I slowly slid into the net. How it happened that my boat capsized I didn’t realise. The two hulls stood out of the water but otherwise there was no sign of my boat. I stood on the net stretched between the hulls up to my knees in water and held tight. The main thing was to stay with the boat.

It was raining heavily and the rain was colder than the seawater. I could see two yachts a few hundred metres away from me and nothing else. I knew that there was scarcely a chance that I could myself raise this capsized monster. For that I lacked the strength, the practice and the experience. As the storm was approaching from the mainland, I assumed that the wind would drive me out to the open sea.

I became frightened, because whether someone would find me there, above all if the storm were to last for a longer period and then be replaced by darkness, I doubted. I climbed onto the hull and began to shout for help and to wave my hands about. Will they see me in one of those yachts? And if they see me, will they help? There was no alternative. The rain was growing heavier and the darkness changing into a milky fog, which made visibility ever worse. In a few moments this white soup would swallow me up completely and I’ll be found only if someone bumps into me.

What thoughts pass through my head? My 10-year old, who a few moments ago was playing on the beach with other children and in the evening wanted to go with me for a Thai massage. I owe it to him to return. I shouted and waved my arms, again and again, perhaps for the thousandth time.

And in fact at the moment the fog became so thick that I could no longer see the two yachts, a motor boat with three people aboard came towards me. My relief was indescribable. They were good, experienced and quick. The fog was already unbroken and we were like a tiny island in the middle. The youngest among them jumped into the water, released the rope of the large sail and together they raised the catamaran again. One sailed it back to the shore and I drove with the other two in the motor boat. In spite of the wetsuit I got cold and my knees began to shake. The tension was gone and my body, pumped full with adrenalin, began to shiver.

On the shore my soaked youngest was waiting for me and said that he had been very worried. I didn’t dare to tell him how much I had worried.

 

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