I braced myself for a long day with a cup of tea and chocolate.
Windy, Rainy, and Waterlogged
I arrived on the boat completely drenched from the torrential rain, with my travel mug of tea in hand. My husband and I were taking a sailing class. We knew the class was going to occur with or without sunshine. Everything was wet. The boat, my gear bag, myself, and I won't even mention my soggy disposition. I previously was excited and ready to get underway and take the class, but I signed up for great weather only! Damp, soggy, windy weather was not what I had in mind when I agreed to take the sailing class. Luckily I had a strong black breakfast blend to buoy me up.
William Gladstone’s quote regarding tea applied; “If you are cold, tea will warm you. If you are too heated, it will cool you. If you are depressed, it will cheer you. If you are excited, it will calm you.” I needed to warm up.
I hung up my jacket to dry, wrung out my hair, dried off my gear bag, and retrieved my class text book. The Captain, my husband, and I sat in the cabin of the boat as the deluge continued outside. I had my travel mug of tea in hand; attempting to get warm. We went through the book and discussed possible questions that might arise on the written exam. I read the class textbook but my head was flooded with questions, comments, and in need of clarification.
After several hours running through systems, theory, and even some computations, it was time to take the test. I think that was the first time I realized that I had never really put my travel mug down. I was holding on to the mug to help keep my hands warm. I took the written exam. I went to take a sip of my tea and realized, oops, I was out of tea.
By the time I surfaced to the deck of the boat (the outside top part of the boat that can be walked on), I was in desperate need of tea. I was still chilled, and now a bit thirsty and hungry too. We found a restaurant and I decided I was more hungry than thirsty and ordered a delicious platter of fried green tomatoes and a shrimp appetizer. We invited the Captain to join us; all three of us enjoyed food, fellowship, and regaling sailing stories. By the time we went back to the boat for an overnight on board, the sun was peeking through the clouds, it had stopped raining and actually was warmer. Tomorrow’s weather was looking better for sailing than I had thought.
Later That Night
The Captain’s First Mate arrived later that night to help us sail the next day. All four of us were sitting around the salon table (kitchen table) talking about life, sailing, and tea. They had a good selection of tea and shared what some of their favorite blends were that they enjoyed. It was my turn that night to be technical and a teacher. They had several questions regarding tea. Teaching was a reprieve from all the learning that occurred that day. My head still spun from all the learning and test taking. I knew my time of becoming a student was fast approaching again the next day.
The Next Day
I woke up, lumbered into the galley (the kitchen area on a boat) with my portable teapot and groggily poured water in to boil. It was going to be a long day. It was going to be a very windy day with winds up to approximately 20 knots (22-23 MPH). It was also going to be a bit dangerous day sailing the boat in the winds, and “learning the ropes”, pun intended. I made the strongest cup of tea I had packed with me. Something that had caffeine and matched the dark, cloudy sky outside. I made a breakfast blend black tea again.
Breakfast blends usually have Assam tea incorporated in the blend. Assam tea grows in the Eastern part of India, and is produced from Camellia Sinensis assamica leaves. The tea has an earthy and malty flavor, and is full bodied. The aroma of the tea is typically malty. Breakfast blends usually hold up well to the addition of milk, or cream, and the addition of a variety of sugars.
By the time breakfast was over and my travel tea mug half drained, it was time to go up on deck and start our day sailing and motoring. We worked the engines first and learned how to motor with twin engines. We both had to show our competencies backing up, going forward, turning in a tight radius, dropping anchor, and retrieving a mooring ball. Basically, we had to prove our skills at motoring a sailboat like one has to prove they are competent behind the wheel of a car before they obtain a driver's license.
We both passed our portion of the motoring performance tests. On to the sailing portion of the test. The wind was picking up, the wind chill dropped and the waves had white caps on them (meaning rougher seas than when we first started motoring). I stowed my travel tea mug down below in a sink so that it would not be tipped over, and possibly spill, in the rough seas. With the help of the Captain, I motored the boat out of the harbor and into the channel with some minor glitches. I turned the helm (the position of being in control of the boat and actually sailing or motoring the boat) over to the Captain. Time for a round of hot tea to warm me up before the next portion of the test. Once we were successfully clear of the harbor and any boat traffic, the sails were raised. It was a blustery day out on the water and muscle power was required to raise the sails, due to the wind resistance. I was already exhausted and cold again, but no time for a tea break. I had my turn at the helm again and had to prove my sailing capabilities at each stage of the test prior to moving forward to the next skill assessment. By the time the testing was over, my nerves were shot, my hair was a wind blown mess, my face was a bit chaffed from the wind, and my muscles were sore. Once we pulled back into the dock and tied up the boat, it was tea time!
We had to wait for the Captain to catch up on paperwork before we knew if we passed the performance test. That was just enough time for me to finish my tea that was leftover from the morning. There was comfort in sipping the warm beverage while I waited for the Captain. There was a steeling of the nerves I derived from the bracing cup of black tea as I waited for the sailing assessment. Then, there was a celebration note in the black tea as I heard the results of my sailing performance test.
We both passed our tests of knowledge and sailing competency. What a long two days. My brain was fried, my muscles sore, and my balance was a bit off (I still felt like I was sailing even though the boat was still, and tied up at the dock). I would do it all over again but with a twist. I would bring more tea. More tea for me of course, to sustain me through a rigorous testing situation. Also more tea for the Captain and First Mate. One never knows where you’ll meet fellow tea lovers, and preparation is key to making sure there is enough tea to share.
A cup of tea is meant to be shared on land and sea,
About The Author
Leslie Sundberg is a World Tea Academy Certified Tea Specialist, a World Tea Academy Apprentice Tea Sommelier, a Specialty Tea Institute Level IV trained Tea Specialist, and a Tea and Business Etiquette Specialist. On any given day, Leslie can be found teaching, speaking or sharing in the joys of a cup of tea. No matter what Leslie is doing or where she is, one thing remains constant: 4:00 in the afternoon is tea time!