Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sailing and an Inadvertent Swimming in Skärgården

I am not a sailor. A seaman if you will. Not because I don’t enjoy water, I do, but because I do not own a sail boat. It’s really that simple. Of course, this weekend would suggest that maybe that is for the better.

Saturday morning in Stockholm saw a lot of rain. Not the steady drizzle that so often mars the Swedish fall, but actual rain. The kind that leaves you wet and chilled to the bone. I was supposed to go sailing for the first time in the Stockholm archipelago. (On a side note, being a native English speaker it pains me to ask this, but, is it arch as in architect or arch as in arch?) Waking up to see the rain I called my cousin whose friend it was we were going to be sailing with. Sailing was on.

I scrambled to find waterproof gear. Looking through my closet reminded me what kind of outdoorsman I am. The kind that sticks to snow. My gear was all snowproof. Deciding that snow and water are basically siblings, I grabbed an outer shell of a ski jacket and was ready for my day.

The rain continued as we drove to Skärgården. And continued as we parked. And continued as we debated on what to do. And continued as we walked to the boat. And continued as we headed out of the harbor. And continued as we sailed. For hours on end it rained. Despite the rain life was good. The archipelago is an impressive landscape. Or seascape. Or both.

Soon it was time for lunch and the rain had started to clear. Which worked well because I love lunch. We headed to an island where we could park the boat. (I’m not sure whether you park a boat or dock a boat or what you do with a boat. Sailing terminology eludes me in both Swedish and English.) I was asked to jump out first and tie the boat down after the anchor had been thrown overboard.

The first area was deemed too steep even for my agility to navigate. So we moved along finding what looked to be a good place for me to jump ashore. And so I jumped. Only to remember that it had been raining for hours on end. And rocks rounded and smoothed by the ice age tend to become a bit slippery when wet. My feet touched down and suddenly I was clawing at whatever I could find in hopes of maintaining some semblance of dryness. I did not maintain any semblance of dryness. I slid into the water. Fully clothed. Including my jacket. And wallet. And cell phone. And camera.

It took me a couple of minutes to drag myself out of the water. Turns out that sea grass is also slippery and it was covering the rocks just below the surface of the water. Finally I pulled myself out of the water. The others made it ashore. We all laughed. Ha ha ha.

I pulled out my cell phone, took it apart, and laid it out to dry. I checked my camera. The case I use when I take it skiing seemed to have kept it dry. All in all, not too bad. And anyway, I was hungry.

Lunch was had. Conversation was had. The sun came out and started to dry what few pieces of clothing I removed without making myself completely indecent. And that’s when it happened. My cousin walked along the rocks and was suddenly screaming out in surprise. Because she was sliding. And sliding. Into the water she went. I laughed. Then realized she had slid quite a ways and I should probably check to see if she was ok. She was. So I laughed some more.

The Swedish language has a glorious word, skadeglädje, it can be found in German too, schadenfreude. Essentially taking pleasure in the pain of others. And while I wasn’t necessarily taking pleasure in the pain, I was taking pleasure in the embarrassment of others. Because now I wasn’t the only one to slide into the water.

We took some more time to try to dry off then headed back. The remainder of the trip was me shivering while trying not to look uncomfortable and ungrateful. I was a guest and we were on a boat. There just wasn’t much to be done so I tried to place myself in the sun as often as possible.

I made it home to a warm shower and some very wet personal items. I once again took my cell phone apart. I laid everything in my wallet out to dry. I even put my cell phone battery in some rice which is apparently supposed to suck out the moisture from the battery.

This morning I woke up and decided that I would check my camera for damages. Just in case. So I tried the power button. Nothing. Fair enough, the batteries were starting to get old, maybe they had just run out. So I took out the batteries. Only to notice condensation. The kind that actually drops water onto your fingers. Damn it.

Sailing was fun. Having two newly christened metal paperweights is less fun. Today all I can think of is that I should never own a sail boat. Ever.

Before I started writing this blog I never really kept track of my life. Obviously there are pictures and memories but nothing as detailed and permanent as the writing. I used to think I was a normal person. I knew I did stupid things but no more than the average person. Now I have a record of the situations I find myself in and I’m starting to wonder.

Welcome to Sweden. And inadvertent swimming.

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  1. Oh i can picture someone half dressed in dripping clothes suddenly turn around because of a sound and seeing a friend slowly and steadily slidding down a clif into the cold water(without being able to do anything) :)

    About skadeglädje, id say pretty much any swedish komedi is pretty much filled with this kind of humour.

  2. thats the thing... its such a slow process but theres just nothing you can do. nothing to grab on to. just slowly sliding into the water...

  3. i'm with you about how writing is different than pictures. when you write you actually express your feelings and thoughts which i barely think a picture or even a record is capable of doing.i actually did it once long ago and when i read them 6 months later just felt wow.
    hope you saved the cell phone, i got mine once wet and was too slow to get it dried and now he doesn't talk to me anymore i think he's still upset ;)

  4. This is slightly unrelated, but the fact that you wrote "seamen" got me thinking about it.

    When I try to explain to English speakers how to pronounce my name in Swedish I usually get semen jokes. Not so funny after a while. :( Has that ever crossed your mind? I don't know how much Swedish you grew up talking, so maybe it's not something you'd think about. I don't knoooow.

  5. If the water was fresh water try using a hair dryer (at low heat) evenly and carefully over the bodies of the camera and cell phone. Take your time.

    If the water was salt water then you may be SOL.

    As for archipelago, the proper English pronunciation is more like the "archi" in architect...

    ark-i-pela-go with the accent on pela.

    As a total aside, have you noticed how Charlie Brown's dog in the comic strip "Peanuts" was translated into Swedish years ago as "Snobben" as in "snobby" instead of "Snoopy" as in "curious"?

    Just thought I'd ask.

  6. It's not that you should never own a sailboat. It's that you should own a plastic baggy.

    I love sailing! Spent a whole week doing it just the week before last. I use some of my snow gear too for wet/cold conditions. Like fleece & shells, etc. Some of it doesn't translate, but a lot of it does.

  7. Simon, that reminds me of Swedish chef Tina Nordström, who was asked, in English, what her favourite dish was and she answered "Seamens stew" (Sjömansgryta "Sailors stew")... Cell phones, ipods, cameras they always ends up in the water somehow... I've learned from my mistakes so now I have cheap, old cellphones and mp3-players that I can use in that kind of outdoorsy situations, if i lose or break them I won't be as sad. I never volonteer to be the one to jump ashore, I did that once, on a "brygga" (don't know the word in English, pier? But I mean one of those small wooden things, pier sound more like somethink big, in stone?) where some people were sunbathing, and just as i jumped the boat bumped into the "brygga" and I lost my balance totally and fell, face down, on one girl's belly. Embarrassing. Maybe it's better to go to the archipelago by "Waxholmsbåt", less jumping, less risk of falling, in the water, or on somebody.

  8. @Michael – the cell phone is still taken apart and drying. I’m not confident that it will survive.

    @Simon – I had never thought about it, but I can definitely see how that joke could get pretty old pretty quick. That’s the trick part with names going to different languages. Sometimes they just end up a little off.

    @California Living – Salt. Definitely salt water. Or brackish water at least.

    And good work on the archipelago. That’s the pronunciation Ive been using so glad that I haven’t been completely out there.

    And in terms of Snoopy, no, I haven’t noticed. Now I’m going to have to look for Snobben. It’s like I said above, sometimes names going over to different languages just don’t work as they should.

    @E – Well I think what I should really do is just not keep these things on my body. Leaving them in the boat rather than in my pocket would have solved the problem.

    I will say that my ski jacket worked quite well. You know, until I fell right into the water. Because waterproof apparently doesn’t mean it will keep me dry when I go swimming. Clearly the waterproof claim is false advertising.

    @Sofie – Those were two glorious stories. And that is just a great direct translation of a dish. I would have liked to see the reaction of others when she said that.

    My embarrassment was kept to just a few people. And people I knew so I think your story of face planting on a girls belly wins.

  9. Hahaha. Sorry, had to laugh at you. This is why I don't keep a blog. I'm seriously not helping debunk any clumsy American stereotypes. I'm convinced I'm a very close relative to Lucy Ricardo, and have so many embarrassing moments, I do not want to relive, or reread any time soon. Like falling in the entrance to T-Centralen on Drottninggatan while wearing a skirt in front of a bunch of people crowded in there trying to avoid the rain. Oops... well, that's the only one I'll tell.
    Sorry about the camera and the phone. The memory card is still ok, right? That's the important part. The rest you can replace.

  10. according to merriam webster, it's arch like in architecture.

  11. Hairy, try using denaturated alcohol or just pure ethanol (pretty expensive). Take the phone apart (as far as you can get) and put it in a jar filled with alcohol for a night. Dry using paper towels and *then* hairdryer to finish the work. Assemble and smile.
    Worked well for my PDA after rain-bath in a tent. And no, vodka doesn't work.

  12. Keep on writing! You'll appreciate it when you're old and grey. You can look back on all the fun times you had in your youth. The more details you write, the better because memory fades. I can't even remember what I did last week.
    I suggest you keep a back up copy of your blog writings in case Google ever decides to delete stuff or starts making people pay for blogging.

  13. It never occurred to me that you might want to download videos & pictures of pretty girls. How disobliging of me - not posting some for you. Thankfully you have thoughtful people like LLC reading your blog.

  14. Weird, I was out there this weekend, too.

  15. so, how is the cell phone doing!?

  16. I'm sorry to say this but I feel like your blog has gone downhill. Where's the political insight (e.g. "Swedes are socialist and they wanna give you free education") of your previous posts? Gone, I tell you...

    "Swedes wear tights"? Come on, what are you? A fashion blogger? "Mean people read Liza Marklund? What are you? A uhm... book blogger? Well college boy, you just lost yourself a reader. Haha, get it? "Book" and "college boy" and then "reader"... Classic. Anyway, peace out.

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  18. @Shawna – Lets not make fun at big hairy clumsy guys. Especially when some people are falling skirts and flashing the Swedish population.

    Unfortunately the camera is dead, but the memory card was empty at the time so no worries really. And the cell phone battery is also dead. So I’ve had better swims.

    @anonymous – YES! At least Ive been saying it right. Although now I need to confess that Im a bit embarrassed that I didn’t think to just check an online dictionary.

    @Mike – I went with the rice method. The cell phone seems to be alive and well. Except for the battery. So I give rice a mixed review.

    @lifelessons – I actually write everything in word first. In hopes that it will force me to edit better. But I still manage to find typos every time I re-read something.

    @E – LLC is now gone. One of the few comments to ever be deleted from the blog. But I think LLC was meeting a need, and everyone needs pretty girls.

    @Stu – hopefully not in the water with me.

    @Michael – the phone itself is fine. The battery is dead.

    @... – theres only so much socialist propaganda I can try to shoot down. Although, the mean people had some social commentary if not political. And what is politics if not based on societal mores. Or something like that. But stay with me, I’ll see if I can uncover more socialist nonsense.

    @SRK – umm… thanks.