Thursday, 15 March 2007

Up the creek without a paddle

I'm getting lazy. Last post was about a week late and so is this one.
I mentioned in an earlier post last week that I had had a super Saturday evening at Khalid's place. Having not partaken that evening of any banned substances I was up bright and early on Sunday morning. A pleasant change from earlier days. No comments please.

So here we were another Sunday in Karachi. What to do?

Well I omitted to mention earlier in my blog that the week before last whilst on my sight seeing I had visited the Marina Club on the Creek situated to the east side of Karachi. Quite an upmarket place with a lot of speed and power boats stacked up on the hard standing.

I'd had a walk around the yard after managing to sweet talk my way round the guard, I had explained to him that I was not yet a member but a 'potential' member so please let me in. Sure enough I did get past the gate and met internal security. They gave me the contact details for the Club Secretary. I wandered off to find him, not in so having gained access I decided to have a walk round and look at all the boats. Loads of boats, some of them superb. Interestingly about 99.9 % were power boats, one hydroplane, you know the type of thing with an engine on the back using the wind to propel it. Sort of thing used a lot in the Mississippi delta. Looked fun.

Then as I went round one large boat I came across a chap standing with a broken weather vane in his hand, just standing there. He was next to a beautiful MacGregor 27. Brand new. After we had a brief chat I discovered it was his boat . Seems he has only recently taken to the sailing lark. He was interesting to chat to and filled me in on the local yachting and sailing scene and related life in Karachi. Soon we had exchanged phone numbers and I before I realised it I was invited for a sail the next Sunday. (That's this Sunday past!! Get it? Are you with me?). Needless to say I jumped at the chance. We said our good byes and see you next week etc etc. I was hoping for the confirmation but not really sure it would come though.

I got back in my car and as the driver was taking me home I reflected on the turn of events. Earlier I was on my own just cruising well sort of cruising if one can cruise round Karachi. Then I met Shehzad. "How about we get together next Sunday and have a sail up the creek? OK?" asked Shehzad. Sitting in the car this had a whole new connotation. Sailing up the creek?!!! ? Is that what he really said or was it 'Up the Creek without a paddle?" Maybe I should not wait for his call but call him to clarify? It could be important as I've been up the proverbial Creek on several occasions in the past (will be subject of separate Blog) and do I really want to do it again?...I don't think so. No creek for me.

Sunday arrived and yes I was off up the creek. Karachi for those of you who do not know is dry. I don't mean alcohol dry, I mean absence of rain. It rains a few days a year. Well today it came early all 14 centimeters of it. It started as Shehzad and I met in the yard. I had arrived early and had to wait inside the gate for him. Not allowed beyond the confines of the guard hut as I was not a member! It was a good thing in some ways as the guard made me a cup of tea and chatted away. He had a lovely mannerism and an ever so very quaint style of english. Almost victorian, courteous and polite with an old fashioned manner, his expression was straight out of a 1950 expat phrase book which made me at once smile but at the same time very relaxed. Then I realised there was some rain. Not real rain but a few spots. Sky was overcast. Slight wind.

Sitting there, waiting enjoying my cuppa and listening to the guard time flew by and before I know it Shehraz arrived. Happy greetings and jumped into his car and off to the jetty. Boat was ready. On we got, off with the lines and watched as the shore receeded. Up the creek we were going. The small drops of rain started reappearing and were getting bigger....

The small drops got bigger and bigger. It was real rain with wind. Not ever warn rain but like the usual UK wet and cold rain that you cannot fail but notice.

We sailed yes you got it in one...'up the creek' but no paddle!!! Put up the sails and boy did she move. We had a wonderful few hours up to the mouth of the creek and back to the club house. The Boat went well. Reaching 7 knots in a force 3-4. We only had up a Genoa which was partially reefed.

The MacGregor 27 is a light displacement boat cleverly designed to be good under sail or engine. Ballast is by water in the lower tank with a drop fin skeg for sailing. It means you can use the boat as a sailor or speed boat. The advantage of the skeg is when lifted one can get right up onto the shore.

Shehraz who obviously loves his boat had brought along his two children who thoroughly enjoyed the trip. It was great to watch them on the wheel. Both were keen sailors but I did detect a clear preference for fishing... I was asked so many questions about bottom fishing and trawling it was only to obvious. I was not sure I believed the size of all the fish caught on previous trips!! They had got bigger and as the trip progressed.

We had a great day. Hope I get the chance to do it again. Up the creek without a paddle can be a lot of fun!! Who knows maybe those fish really are that big? Till my next blog.

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