I've never been very good with the cold. I deal with it by firstly curling my hands into a ball, then into my jacket, followed slowly giving up and crying. It's worked as a general rule up until now.
I remember being 8 years old, with 2 frozen plaits whilst skiing, frozen, really frozen. A few tears, quickly enabled a Daddy hug and a hot chocolate. That's how it works.
This weekend was going to be a game changer for me. It was set to be one of the coldest weekends this year and I was due to spend all weekend out on the water, Saturday as a crew member on a coaching rib and Sunday I had my Instructors Pre- Assessment all day. I was going to have to man up.
I had a couple of tools up my sleeve however, one was in the form of a lovely Volvo XC90 that I had won for the weekend which sported the greatest feature ever to grace a car, a heated steering wheel and secondly an Olympian dose of Adrenaline..
My husband sat in bed on Saturday morning and mused, " Oh listen, the weather forecaster has just said, you'll be fine as long as you have plenty of layers on and you stay out of the wind!". Fine, I could achieve layers, I'm past worrying about looking fat in cold situations, hiding from the wind on a rib in the middle of a lake and on a sailing boat would prove to be tricky.
We set off, the temperature gauge in the car read zero, I clutched my warm steering wheel hoping to infuse some heat into my hands and my body. Soon, way to soon, I found myself out on the water looking for my inner brave. The coaches were looking for help, not tears. First job, could I tie up the wet painter at the front of the boat. Seriously, did they not know that that involved getting wet gloves which would translate directly to frozen hands? Yes of course, no problem.
Predictably, it didn't take long for my hands to get cold but as I watched these young kids pushing their boats hard, falling in the water, smiling, laughing, fighting their way for top spot, I felt humbled. If they could cope so could I.
Sunday, dawned a new day, a fresh breeze and a good dose of Adrenaline and a freshly dried pair of gloves. I set off for the Sailing Club tightly gripping the warm steering wheel of my now beloved XC90. It was going to be a tough day, passing this was going to be no breeze for me, no pun intended.
I arrived, the others were already rigging the boats so I went off to prepare the rescue boat. Deactivate the alarm, check the boat for safety equipment, get the fuel tank, start the engine. I tugged at the cord, nothing. 20 tugs later, nothing. I was conscious that time was pressing and the assessor was on her way, I willed, I prayed, I tugged nothing. The only thing to do was to swap boats and start again. This boat had several inches of water in, so I had to pump it dry before I could start the process. I tugged, nothing. Man, this weather. Finally after 20 minutes of starting I got the engine to go, in my excitement I had forgotten to undo the alarm and set off in reverse with the alarm still attached. A sharp tug, I fell backwards into the boat. Thank god I was alone.
I was warm with my many layers and I had started to sweat, small mercies I think they say. We set off on the water with my heart in my mouth. For the next 7 hours, I tacked, gybed, hiked, laughed and didn't give one thought to the cold.
I passed the assessment, delighted beyond words. I also passed another major milestone, I finally learnt to deal with the cold.
Today I woke with a battered face and finger, I have no recollection of any incident on the water and I fear I may have an adrenaline low. The XC90 and its warm steering wheel are going back home. Thanks for a great weekend.