My second sailing lesson started as soon as we set off from the Korcula marina pontoon. Miro patiently reminded us how to get the sail up and then got me onto the rudder whilst working with the Luxembourgian on the jib. As we got into the nearby channel we soon zipped along into the south westerly wind leaning right over. We went out around an island and I got the chance to try trimming the sails using the wools on the jib with the rudder keeping up a reasonable pace. After an hour we swapped over and turned for home but not before Miro suggested I get towed behind the boat for a bit. He threw a rope loop over the stern and I jumped in. The force was amazing, I thought we were only moving slowly but the rope was practically ripping my arms off. Soon I climbed back in and moved on to the jib and started to get to know the feel of the varying pressures and when to let it out or tighten it in. However we started to struggle to make much progress as the wind dropped to a total calm. Miro got us to practice some knots whilst we waited for things to change. Almost immediately we started to move again. One moment we were becalmed the next we were absolutely flying. I was pulling on the jib as hard as I could and it was still flapping away. Then the mail sail started flapping and very soon after that Miro joined in. Mistral! he shouted plus a few more words I took to be Croation expletives. He quickly took over the rudder and had us hauling in the maddly flapping sails. Once safe he explained about the Mistral, a sudden northerly wind this coast is famous for which often results in a storm and boats getting into trouble. All around us boats of all sizes were scurrying for port. Miro decided we would be better coming back in by engine but the thing wouldn’t
start! A couple of mobile phone calls to put a rescue boat on standby and he carried on fiddling with the motor. Eventually he topped it up with fuel to the brim which seemed to cause enough of a vacuum to get it going again and soon we were motoring back to port through whitecaps though only just making headway against the Mistral wind.
Day 3 came after a night of stormy, windy conditions, The Mistral throwing its force to the extent that ferries were delayed and all the Adriatic cruise ‘pirate’ ships were forced to stay in port to party even harder. The morning brought still heavy seas and strong Mistral northerly winds so Miro delayed our lesson to the afternoon. Relaxing with a cappuccino in the café next to the sailing
school I decided as the froth blew off across the table that this should be added as a more modern measure of windspeed to be added to the Beaufort scale.
My last lesson was fantastic, we were out nearly 3 hours, Miro trusting me on the jib which I seemed to now have the hang of as he concentrated on our Luxembourgian friend who was still struggling with the rudder, keeping the speed going as with tacked and jived our way around the channels and Islands that surround Korcula. The wind was still strong and even with the sail reefed right down we still were zipping along, the yacht leant right over with whoever was on the jib getting a proper soaking. The 3 day 6 hour intro course to sailing by Oreb school was brilliant and has left me wanting to try a bit more in the UK when I get home though perhaps not getting towed behind in a pair of swimming trunks!