Sailing on a Swiss lake – and a storm!
As mentioned in my “Solo across the Atlantic “article, you can even encounter a storm on a seemingly calm, placid lake which will test your sailings skills to the limit.
After Michael bought Waggis on the Swiss lake of Wallensee, he sailed her a lot, usually with one or more of his 3 daughters along for the ride.
On this particular day, 10-year-old Nadja was with him. As I was “interviewing” him, I could just see the picturesque setting in my mind: those magnificent snow-capped peaks surrounding a calm, peaceful, sparkling lake, Edelweiss flowers, cowbells, I can almost hear Heidi yodelling in the hills – you know what I mean….
So off they went dad and daughter for a gentle sail – one end of the lake to the other. All the sails are up in the pleasant breeze and life is glorious.
Michael notices a pretty, but unusual, green and purple/pink sky – the first sign that things are a bit different that day. Before he has even registered that this could be something ominous, a 100 km gale-force wind is barrelling down the lake and in an instant knocks his ten-tonne steel boat on to its side. Pushes his daughter down below, secures the hatch, ties himself on and tries to bring his boat under control. Waggis is now hurtling downwind along the length of the lake at an alarming speed and the shore is in the not too far distance. For half an hour he was pushed down the lake, using his windsurfing knowledge of the wind to try and control his boat. Then, as fast it had appeared, it died down. Shakily they made their way back to the safety of his mooring on the other end of the lake, close to the sailing school. Where the storm warning came on – AFTER the storm had passed.
Lessons learnt: watch the weather reports before you set sail, look for unusual signs from Mother Nature and be prepared for the worst at all times, just in case.