Monday, March 3, 2008

First Sail of 2008

For those of you living in the Southeast, you may have noticed some strikingly beautiful weather this past weekend - Wonderfully fitting for the first couple of days of March. The weather guys nailed this one and true to their predictions we had temps in the mid-60's and winds out of the Southeast in the 10mph range - for our style of recreational boating, that's about as perfect as perfect gets.

So with hot water in the thermos and a wife, dog, and good friend along, we headed on down to the boat for the first sail of 2008. For all you snow bird boaters out there, you might want to cover you eyes for the next part... we get to 'winterize' our boat on the water, our power plant keeps our little sailing lake warm year round... So there's not much to do but open her up and head out...

And head out we did. We had the sails up in short order and after a quick adjustment from Genoa to Jib we settled in to seriously relaxing afternoon of sailing. The conditions were a welcome sight to more than a few other sailers in the club, and a lot of the fun was watching the other boats in the stiff breeze shake free the cob webs of our short off season.

Of particular note was a Catalina 22, flying a Genoa and making some serious speed for a small cruiser. There's a craft where the lines of hull combine with the sweep of sail to create something truly beautiful in motion. No less beautiful was an open Flying Scott with a crew of five (including dog) scooting along at a raucous clip with just a hint of abandon... her baby-boomer crew hiking out to off-set heel as if they spent their teens in the 90's instead of the '50s. For the record, they completely smoked us.

There was a Laser out there too, single handed and shooting for a spot up on plane which I'm sure he made a time or two in just the right puff. Where I saw him make the best action though was back at the docks with a few friends gathered around a charcoal barbecue... Sails set loose across the dock and idle in the wind... smiles everywhere.

I'm quite sure I wouldn't have changed a single thing.

Sailing is the Destination

Every since I was a little kid, I've always loved boats in a marina. Even now that I'm older and I know a thing a two about conservation and the environment, I still just can't help but love boats in a marina. On this one I have no preference for Sail or Power boats except that to say the clacking of Halyards against mast is one of my favorite sounds of all time.

I can't take credit for coming up with 'Sailing is the Destination' but I'm not sure anyone has claimed the dock as the destination - I don't know, maybe the house boaters have me beat there... Let me tell you, those guys have recreation figured out! But if you like to unwind with a drink or spend some time with friends when it's time to kick back, a boat at the dock makes for a memorable setting to say the least. It's definitely one of those things where you just can't anticipate the different experiences in store for you.

An inability to predict the realities of experience is something we're all familiar with from time we've spent outdoors, sailing or no. Most of us spend most of our time inside and it's all too easy to forget how much we need to be outside. For me sailing has added a new dimension to the whole affair as I'm constantly aware of what the wind is doing - even when my next sail might be days away. Wind direction and strength and approaching storms... Around here the sailing conditions are best with winds out of the south... who knew such a small thing could make a fellow so happy.

Another thing that'll make a guy happy is owning a finely tuned function-specific machine like a sailboat. Sailboats are dauntingly complex even at a quick glance and to come to know one is an intimate and personal thing. Just like with people, there's always something new to learn and think about... It's exciting to hold confidence in your machine and your sailing skills too.

Having that confidence in hand when you bring other people aboard is wonderfully unique. My informal observation is that most people have never been sailing. They've never felt that quiet rush of a slipping along under full sail - awash in wind and experience. It's something for everyone and not to be missed. I've yet to come across someone who says - no, I don't want to go sailing. Should be easy enough to straighten out if I ever do - Even if our journey takes us no further than the marina.