Frostbiting is Good for the Soul

Frostbiting is good for many things.

It keeps you fit; it builds skills in the off-season; you make new friends; you learn from good sailors; and it can also give you new experiences that you wouldn't otherwise have.

A few years ago I was frostbiting out of a club in Dublin. As I sailed out of the harbour a seal bobbed up behind my boat and swam along behind me for a little while, diving down and then popping back up. He was never more than a couple of boatlengths from me, and he was having a good look at what I was up to. He seemed to want to play.

A seal swimming, and probably not frostbiting.

This image was found here

And then, as I approached the harbour wall he had a last look, dived down and swam back into the harbour. It was as if he realised only someone crazy would venture out of the nice, calm harbour.

He was probably right.

The incident struck me more than it probably should have. It's unusual, but nothing life-changing. But there was something strangely peaceful and personal about it. After a busy week, and then a busy boat-park, and with my mind on work, or race strategy, or family, it was a moment out of normal life. It was different.

The funny thing is, I didn't tell anybody about my short encounter for several weeks. Not on purpose, I actually forgot. It had been a strange day's racing, with the wind swinging 180 degrees so that for much of the first race we were surfing upwind on one tack, and lurching with a cross-swell coming from leeward on the other. And I'd done quite well, with a couple of top 5 places, and so, somehow, the seal was forgotten. It is amazing how quickly life takes over again.

But whenever I think of it I can remember that sense of other, of something else in life than the day-to-day, and it makes me happy.

I'm glad I went frostbiting that day.

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