Some of my first memories as a child
were of constructing sailboats made of large sticks with the flat part
of a pop-top can for a keel and rudder and part of a Styrofoam cup for
a sail. I would find a ditch or mud puddle and sail my designs for hours.
From there I graduated to a 12 inch plastic sailboat with cotton sails.
I sailed my imaginary yacht
in my aunt and uncle' s pool. I taught myself about weather helm by
tensioning the rubber band on the rudder. I would place my treasured
sailboat at one side on the pool, read the wind on the water, and run
over across the pool to where my sailboat would end up. When I turned
10 my parents bought me a 4 foot plastic rowboat. While my friends paddled
their boats (like mine), I used an old golf umbrella from my father
I paddled for an hour or
more just to sail downwind for 10 wonderful minutes. What a geekette!
At age 15 I bought my first sailboat with my own money... a used 15
foot Chrysler man o war. This was my own America's cup boat.
When I was sailing time
stood still and it still does 10 years later, except for time waiting
for a drawbridge opening. I went to a 22' day sailor that I would sail
100 miles a weekend. When I got tired of hitting my head in the 3 foot
headroom of this boat, I bought a 26' New Horizon like my scoutmaster's
boat. Her name was Moonflower. She was graceful and very forgiving.
I sometimes would leave
on a Friday afternoon just for a day sail and not return for 2 days.
It drove my parents fucking crazy, but they knew I had a great respect
for the sea and that I would be fine. I later inherited my scoutmaster's
sailboat. Like my father, he was a great sailor, but with infinite patience
and a serene disposition. He was sailing an old 52' sailboat loaded
with sea scouts in Pearl Harbour when the Japan invaded it. He claimed
that he once saw the birth of an island, while sailing in the South
Pacific. The island cooled and crumbled back into the sea.
From him I gained a lifetime
of sailing experiences and practical knowledge. I learned patience,
and how to listen to that little voice inside while in storms or in
despair. He would comment to me about adding his yearly 5 gallons of
diesel to his boat.
I sold that boat a few
years ago to devote my time to Nick's 30 foot sailboat. I wish I could
have held on to every sailboat I owned from the beginning. Each boat
was different just like each of us. They had their good points and bad.
I am a better sailor from learning what each sailboat taught me.
You see, I believe you
don't learn to sail, but that the sailboat you are on teaches you how
it wants to be sailed. You may teach yourself knots or diesel repair.
But real sail lessons are from sailing. You might make mistakes now
and then but you learn from them and keep moving on. Sailing is a lifestyle,
not a means of transportation.
It's to be treasured...
each moment. I like to think that, each hour of sailing has added to
my life expectancy. Maybe that's why, I, like many of my sailing friends,
am never going to grow up. We still maintain memories of sailing sticks
in mud puddles.
Fair winds, and at least
an inch of water under your keel at all times.