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The fact that the relationship didn't end when I took up skiingis a testament to my stubborn Irish nature. Or his obstinateSwedish one. Yes, we fought all the way down the slopes: (Me: "SLOWDOWN!" Him: "You need to PUSH yourself!" Me: "If I'm going to pushanybody it's going to be YOU off this mountain!")

Or tennis. Yes, that went well. (Him: "Keep your EYE on theBALL!" Me, panting: "Shut-up!!!!") Post-retirement, when he took upgolf again, he knew better than to approach me about taggingalong.

So recently when our friends invited us to spend a day sailingwith them in their recently acquired boat, I gulped because sailingis ... well, a sport. Right? Possibly even an EXTREME sport in mybook, my book having precious little sports history written in it.Would I be eaten by sharks? Could I remain inside the boat? Werethere seatbelts?

Yes, now that I've hit a "certain age" my focus is on the sideof avoiding death. I hold the handrail going down steps. I try toremain upright in parking lots. I consume lots of fiber. But thereI was, about to deliberately throw myself into possible imminentdestruction.

"Did Orv and Carol take sailing lessons when they got the boat?"I queried my husband. If not, here was a sure way out. I mean, whywould I, a responsible grandparent, board a vessel with untrainedhands on deck?

"Oh, they didn't need to," he replied. "They used to racesailboats."

Oh. Well. This meant they were certainly capable. But might italso mean they were a little wild and crazy out on the waves?Knowing our friends for something approaching three decades,however, I figured that wouldn't be the case.

So we arrived at the marina at the appointed time one clear,bright morning where we were introduced to a 36-foot beauty of aFrench sailboat, named "Notre Temps" - an appropriate moniker for acouple enjoying retirement as well as two new grandchildren.

We toured the cabin where everything was so cute and compact Iimmediately felt the urge to start nesting. There were ample, ifcozy, sleeping quarters. Carol and Orv bunked in the bow on a neattriangular-shaped bed (or are they "racks" in maritime terms?)where Carol slept on the inside, nearest the hull. Laughing, sheexplained that if Nature called in the middle of the night shepretty much scrambled over Orville to get out.

We had a lesson in use of the "facilities" should the need ariseas well as a reassuring tutorial in boat and water safety. "We liketo bring back the same number of people we left with," Orv informedus, which was okey-dokey with me.

The weather was picture-perfect, one of those sunny, shirtsleeveweather days common here in the fall. Orv was an accomplishedcaptain and Carol ("the admiral" as Orv dubbed her) amazed me asshe sprang nimbly onto the deck, handling ropes and sails like ayoung lass. Having a couple of years on me, I was beyond impressedat her agility.

As for me, I avoided becoming shark bait. Joyfully I practicedmy own favorite "sport" from the safety of the cockpit - snappingphotos of dolphins and never-ending magnificent vistas as "NotreTemps" skimmed elegantly over the waters of San Francisco Bay.

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