The Cunning Plan
At times, the last few months have been a nightmare!
How do you keep a secret from Michelle? Not easily, I can tell you. But, on the day we had organised to sail under the Golden Gate bridge, I did. The plan was simple but was completely dependent on the weather. The climate in San Francisco can be very changeable and about 10 days ago, I began chewing my nails when I discovered that the weather forecast for San Francisco’s bay was actually half decent for our boat trip.
Captain Chuck wasn’t what we expected. If you asked me to describe the person who would greet us, I might have gone for Captain Birds eye mixed with Billy Connolly; perhaps a garrulous soul who would turn us into a crack crew as we sailed into the bay.
“Come on me Hearties! Hoist the Sail, Man the Spinnaker, Get the Fish Fingers on!”
The person that we met and the experience that we had could not have been more opposite. He wore dark glasses and was very softly spoken. He greeted each and every one of us and then escorted us gingerly to his boat.
As we climbed on board, he gave us a few instructions about safety and before we knew it, we were inching out of Sausalito and down toward the bridge in a very pleasant morning sun.
A Lesson on the Bay
As we made our way past stationery tug boats and restaurants on stilts, Chuck talked about the bay and how the weather can quickly change. He spoke about an expected front on its way and then asked us about our sailing backgrounds. He measured us with small but pertinent questions. He didn’t nod at the answers. There was no flicker from him at all. From stem to stern he was a closed book.
Our group, which consisted of Glen, Kim, Myself, Michelle, Kim’s daughter, Charlotte and her husband Laurie, were eagerly waiting to see what the bridge looked like from underneath.
Hoping that the plan was going to come together
Meanwhile, I was all nerves. This trip was much more for me than just sailing under the bridge.
Since March, I had been planning for this day. I had only told a handful of people what I intended to do and the first and most important thing was that the weather was good and that we all got there in one piece.
I was waiting for an instruction from the Captain re: putting up the jib, hoist the main sail. None came. We continued chugging past the headland, past boats with sails up and out toward the bridge.
In the distance, an echo of America’s Cup past sailed towards us. A beautiful 12-metre yacht resplendent in its blanched mainsail and new genoa.
That’s the America’s Cup right there, I thought.
Michelle and Kim headed forward to suck in the cooling Pacific breeze and I got a chance to go through the plan with Glenn. This would not have worked if it wasn’t for him and Kim. They have been my accomplices on Mission Impossible.
Surprising Michelle is very hard to do. She notices everything and it is her who should have worked for the Police, not me. Anything that is out of place in our home is soon picked up and placed back into its rightful spot.
So, this is all fairly superfluous stuff right? Well, if you take this and apply it to everything we do, I cannot get anything past her. In fact, there have been a number of times over the last few weeks that I’ve almost roused her suspicion… and when her suspicions are roused, she will not stop until the source has been uncovered.
A lifetime shared together
The next half an hour or so for me was an out of body experience. I had rehearsed the speech in my head and told myself no matter what happened to not let the words overcome me.
Some back story before I continue.
Around 10 years ago, I lost my wedding ring and Michelle has always mentioned that I really should get a new one.
25 years ago, just before our wedding, we purchased the cheapest rings because we had run out of time preparing for the wedding. We ran into Ratners, purchased the first two and ran out again!
I didn’t have much to do with organising our wedding. Michelle did it all, including having our song played in the car from the church to the hotel.
Here was my chance to do something for her. Something she wasn’t expecting. We had talked about getting new rings but that’s all it had been. Just talk.
But not for me.
Rings purchased, Playlist made, Captain clued up, Glenn on production, Secret word for the rings selected (sweets) so that we could talk about it openly, and Kimmie as ring bearer: everything was set.
As we began to approach the bridge, Glenn paired his phone with the onboard Bluetooth speaker and played the first track. Mariah Carey’s ‘So Blessed’. This was a song I would have love to been played at our wedding. I remember at the time wondering if I wrote to her whether she would turn up and sing it.
With all the cast in pIace I called Michelle back from the front of the boat on the ruse that she should come and get a drink.
She mentioned that she thought the song was a good choice and asked me when it was released.
“The year we got married Darling!”
The next song started, “Falling Slowly” – but not the Glenn Hansard version, this was the one by Lee Dewyze and Crystal Bowersox. I realised half way through that it mentions a sinking boat and hoped that wouldn’t be our fate!
Step 2 complete.
The boat came to a stop.
The next part has been captured on video and if anyone wants to see a blubbering mess then the video is below.
I apologise now for breaking down half way through.
As the ceremony finished, Glenn, (back on playlist duty), played our song and the pretense was over.
Michelle looked like she had been transported to paradise (her paradise being a quiet place in the sun) and we all settled down for the trip home.
For a second it looked like we were going to unfurl the genoa. Chuck stood up and reached around us, a winch appeared and as he rotated it, we could feel the pull of the sail, the boat accelerate. Alas, it only came out three quarters of the way and that was that.
I’m not sure we were that worried. We had a great time, and seeing the bridge in this way is highly recommended.
Tune in soon for the next part of our adventure. There’s so much to tell you!