The”how to” series, by Erry Barnes

Any of you who were fluffing around Perth today would’ve noticed it was somewhat cooler, a little windy, a welcome change to the heat.

The perfect day to attempt a tick off the ole 30:thirty list!

As we rounded the Narrows Bridge and took a glance out the window towards Crawley and Kings Park, I began to wonder whether it would be a bit too windy today… Nah… It’ll be fine. As we approached the South Perth foreshore, we were relieved to see the river in a much better condition. Bring it on!

Enter possible bucket list item tick number #10: Learn to sail. We’re talking double digit milestones now!

I added ‘learn to sail’ to the list because it seems like an art which is lost in this technological world, and it has always fascinated me. I decided being able to sail a 2/3 person surf cat counted as sailing. And so here we are.



After the quickest sailing 101 from staff, we’re off on our merry way… Well, I thought I’d watch the first lap, I sat on my pretty ass at the front of the catamaran and got myself all fucking drenched. Yes, when the wind catches and takes you right along with it, there’s nothing to save you from the sea splash. Good thing it’s a warm day in Perth? Hrmmm. Yeah. Brrrrrr.

After lap number 1, it is time to swap the reigns and put me at the helm!


There is the odd “calm down” and “STEER THE BOAT” coming from the front of the surf cat (back seat driver much) as we accelerate, with fury, toward Elizabeth Quay.

Now, I don’t know if it is me, or a change in condition, but WOW are we flying. I come to realise that there are only 2 things I can concentrate on at any one time in this situation, yet there are 3 that I need to…

– Wind

– Steer direction

– How much rope I’ve let out

As soon as the pace picks up, and I feel out of control, because, let’s face it, Mother Nature has complete control here, I panicked, I’m not going to lie…. First things first, we start to tip on to one hull and it does nothing for my panicked state… I worry only about the wind and the sail and lose track of keeping direction. Two things. By the time I think I have control of the catamaran I have lost direction and trying to gain it again just gains speed and momentum and panic… Hrmmm. Yeah… Good.

Enter where the “how to” comes in to the story…..

“How to capsize a catamaran” by Erin Barnes.

Yes, it happened.

As we approached the need to turn, we accelerated. The salt from the river scorching our eyes. Panic rising within me, being at the helm. “Tell me where you think we’re going slow enough to turn.”

“Ermmmm, I think we’re going to have to turn.”

As I let go of the rope and begin pulling the rudder in the direction I can only hope is the right way, the wind comes to the party and grabs us in a way that neither of us saw coming. We we’re on all fours ready to dive under the sail for the turn, but the wind beats us. Before we even realise what is going on I am clinging to the catamaran’s ropes as it follows us under water. Before I know it “Hey, you’re ok?” And I note that I never imagined my sunglasses would survive, but they’re still on my head.

“Yeah, I’m ok.” As the man who I choose to spend my life with, climbs the capsized catamaran to attempt to (errrrrmmm) re-water it, I feel a sense of pride at what comes across as masculinity “hold on to the boat”, “are you ok”, “just don’t let go”. I am OK, I am a little jumpy because I can’t anticipate the turn over, but I am fine. Our rescue occurs and this is what brings the pain. See, we sailed ourselves so close to old jetty moorings in Perth, that we capsized in relatively shallow waters. When ole mate rescuer comes to scoop us up, and latches on, I feel like we’re free, rescued, and let go….

…Rule number one about fight club….

…. Don’t let go of fight club…

… I mean the sail boat… Don’t let go of the sail boat!…

The wind continues to carry the catamaran away wherever it pleases, and now I have to chase it until I can regain contact with said boat…

….problem is, we haven’t quite left the shallow waters yet…. Speed boat drags us out to water, I drag along with the hull, over all those old jetty moorings…. Didn’t need that skin anyway…

Before we know it, we’re back up the right way and on our merry way. I decline the “ropes” as now I am a bit shaken.

A chat with the owner and he reassures me you wouldn’t be a sailer without a tip, and in 3 or so more attempts, you’ll be right as rain.


Not quite the easy ‘tick’ as I was expecting, but hey, it’s a lesson in cockiness.

Be less cocky.

“I am super glad we capsized today” – I’m glad my other half enjoyed it. Actually, you know what? It wasn’t too bad. Not a single jelly fish attacked me from the deep and we made it back to dry land to freeze our nipples off. Excellent.

Oo roo for now.

This one will have to be revisited. That’s OK. Maybe it had been a little to easy until now.


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