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Reality is better than the dream

Since joining Sailability Manly late 2004 I have really enjoyed all my sails with various partners, but it is like so many pursuits in your life as a disabled person, somebody else has some input.

During our last months of the Sailing season I expressed the desire to sail solo.  I think some of the volunteer sailors thought I was crazy as I am legally blind but never the less it was an ambition of mine and I was greatly encouraged by Eli who investigated the possibility. Unfortunately while my dream was growing I broke my right arm which put my ambilition on the back burner for a while.

But wait for it. July 9, 2005, was to be my judgement day. It started out like any other sailing day. While still at home Bob and I listened to the weather forcast as it was a bit overcast. According to the radio weather reports we were in for some showers but Bob looked up the Bureau of Meterology website and said that the radar was showing no clouds, so gathering up our belongings off we went to Manly.  It was clear, clean blue skies without a cloud in sight and a slight breeze blowing down at MYC. We did all the usual preparation for the day's sailing. And then Eli said the magic words "You're sailing solo in "Clea" and Bob and Malcolm will be in the rescue boat which will tow you  over to the other side of the Cove".  While being towed over I started having doubts, thinking maybe I didn't know what was best but then the imp inside said "oh well, what really can go wrong? I might get a bit wet, I might capsize the boat, I might tear a sail but I do know that these boats can fill up with an awful lot of water and not sink so ..........."

When we got to the other side Malcolm gave me instructions re the mainsail and the rudder and then away I went like a duck getting its first swimming lesson on a pond. I really can't express the exhilaration and sheer joy I felt being able to control this boat all by myself. In some ways it was scary as I didn't have anyone else to fall back on but Malcolm had told me that if I felt out of control just to let out the sheet so that is what I did and guess what, it really works. I forgot about the boys following me in the rescue boat so that I didn't come to grief on rocks or other boat. It was only when Malcom called out to come about that I realise they were there like my guardian angels. I kept "looking" at the sails so that I could feel if they were flapping or not. With the sun on my face and I hope a huge smile on my face my experiences in this life had been added to.

The time passed so quickly that it only seemed like a few minutes when I was hailed that we were going back. I think that the boys were going to let me sail across the ferry lane to come home but then thought better of it and towed me back. Eli was on the pontoon to greet me and ask if it was everything that I wanted it to be. "Yes it is fabulous and words really cannot convey the feelings that surge through you!"

"Freedom on the Water" is the Sailability motto and sailing solo definitely put those words into reality for me. I can't wait until I do it again and again. It sounds like I have an addiction and you know what, you are right!

Thank you to Bob and Malcolm for being my guardian angels and a very big thank you to Eli for making it possible and encouraging me to go for it.

Deirdre going solo for the first time!