Some time later the family bought a Paper Tiger giving Cheryl experience sailing monohulls and cats. These days she paddles kayaks, sails in keel boats and also has a Laser, so she has experienced a wide range of vessels over the years. Two adventures in keel boats illustrate Cheryl’s tenacity, love of adventure and ability to cope with adversity.
Once, while crewing on a 52-foot Elliott she was trying to put away the long carbon pole that was used to “pole out” when someone prematurely unfurled the jib. The sail came across and threw her into rough, deep water, which was both dangerous and annoying (they were leading the race at the time meaning many other boats were close behind). Cheryl remembers getting on top of a wave and waved her arms so other boats didn’t run over her. She swallowed heaps of water and they took a long time to rescue her but once back on board, she continued the race, soaked to the skin.
Another even more hazardous incident occurred while tacking one day when the jib sheet caught her under the neck. She managed to grab the rope with her hands as it came across leaving her balancing on the lifeline resulting in a badly bruised back and a damaged kidney, which bled for 6 weeks.
Cheryl still sails keel boats most weeks out of Sandringham, usually in a 44-foot boat called “Skullduggery”.
She once had an amazing experience on a keel boat. She was on night watch during a yacht delivery to Pittwater and saw brilliant fluorescence in the water; the ocean’s breaking waves became bright green, just lit up. She threw an apple core into the water which made the splash sparkle green, presumably because some form of plankton was emitting bioluminescence. Although tethered to the boat Cheryl went up to the bow to take photos. She also remembers sighting whales in the bay on two occasions while sailing.
After marrying and establishing her own family with three children, Lauren, Michael and Callum, Cheryl became a white water paddler, taking her kids on the Yarra and joining the Kirinari Kayak Club. Cheryl’s parents-in-law used to stay at Riverview Caravan Park so Cheryl and her husband decided to make the move there for holidays. She recalls watching Peter and Brian Haymes in their Lasers and thinking “I would love to be out there…”
Having initially bought an old Laser from Peter’s brother-in-law, which always filled up with water inside, she later purchased her current boat (thanks, Peter Haymes) and enjoys it because it is easy to rig, can be managed solo and is still sailable and competitive in the shallow waters of the Barwon.
According to Cheryl, the 2021 safari was “a bugger”. She remembers doing really well and being pleased with her position before suddenly ending up in the water and being completely exhausted by the end of the race.
When asked what she enjoys about BHSA and racing, Cheryl replied: “I love the company of the girls: Jeannie and Sophie. We have our own race within a race - I try to beat them! I love the challenge. I am constantly thinking “what can I do to improve my sailing so I can be up there?””
Thanks so much to Cheryl for sharing her amazing experiences and how she still manages to find “peace on and in the water”.