Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Sailing Sailing

My husband loves to sail and it’s my fault. Once upon a time a long time ago I took basic sailing lessons with him on a lake. It was fun and I liked it all right, but he loved it.

It took a number of years before we owned our first boat, a Compac 16:

A small, trailer-able day-sailor, this was the perfect boat for beginner sailors in mid Missouri. We drove the boat from one Missouri Lake to another. It wasn’t fast, but it was portable and safe and a good boat for a couple with small children and not much money. We had fun with that boat!

But Lee had bigger boat dreams. Our next boat was a Hunter 240. This was our first (and only) new boat. The Hunter had something called water ballast, and a moveable keel, so even though it was 24 feet, it was still trailer-able.

It was a very pretty boat, but it was tippy. A larger or slower boat, when it leans into the wind, goes over slowly, but the Hunter, because it was lighter, goes WHUMP! It was with the Hunter that I developed my first apprehensions about sailing. Sailing was fun, but it could be scary too. We had the Hunter out in some really windy conditions a few times and it wasn’t very fun. In a way that’s how we learned more about sailing, but it’s also when I started to be a more reluctant sailor. Yes, call me chicken, go right ahead.

Sometime around this point our niece and nephew came to stay with us during the summer. The little boy was a sweet kid but didn’t always listen and he was still pretty young. I was afraid that he might not be safe on a sailboat so I told him sternly that while we were on the boat he needed to pay attention and do whatever we told him to do. Unfortunately I forgot to mention that sailboats ride at an angle in the wind. At the first good puff, the boat tipped to one side and poor Cody started screaming “it’s TIPPING! IT’S TIPPING!” Although this later became a family joke I could sympathize with Cody. There were plenty of times when I wanted to yell ITS TIPPING myself.

The next boat on our horizon was a really good boat. It was an older boat, an S2 27. Larger again, this was a beautiful boat, great for sailing or racing, fast and safe.

Lee loved that boat. This was not a trailer-able boat, but by then we had found our Missouri Lake. Stockton Lake, in southwest Missouri, is perfect for sailing. Unlike most Missouri lakes it’s flat, with a large open body of water, so there are relatively steady winds. We had quite a few years of happy times on the waters of Lake Stockton. When we had pre-teens and young teenagers it was easy to convince them that a weekend on Lake Stockton was just the ticket. We’d go down there, maybe rent a cabin or sleep on the boat, grill hotdogs, sail, and have fun.

Older teenagers required more bribery, but the purchase of a jet ski was sufficient to entice them, at least for awhile. We’d sail, the kids would ride the Jet Ski in circles around us. We’d anchor in a cove and the Jet Ski could be used for water skiing and other adventures. Everyone was content.

But kids get older and adults get busier. Stockton was 3 hours away from Columbia, and it grew increasingly difficult to get away for an entire weekend. Teenagers were reluctant to spend the weekend away from town and their friends. It was hard for both parents to go and leave the kids by themselves. Lee ended up spending weekends at the boat by himself. It wasn’t much fun anymore.

When we moved to Texas we thought it would revive our sailing lifestyle. Lake Travis was only thirty minutes from our house. We paid lots of money to get the S2 down to Texas, only to find out that Texas in the summer is hot and miserable on a non-air-conditioned sailboat, and that Travis isn’t a good sailing lake anyway.

Then we moved overseas to Hong Kong. There was no question of sailing there; the Hong Kong yacht clubs cost a fortune and were way out of our league. We had one sailing vacation in Thailand which was great except for the total lack of wind. I didn’t miss sailing that much, but Lee pined for the breezes on the water, jibs and genoas, tack and rudders and decks.

Now that we are in New England we’re getting back to sailing. Rather than spend the money to buy another boat and rent a slip we’ve joined the Boston Sailing Club and Lee is certified to day sail in the harbor on their boats. We took a 22” boat out the last weekend Daniel was in town. It was very windy, but when I wasn’t terrified it was pretty fun! And the views were spectacular.

Lee is going to take the coastal cruising class in September and I’m taking basic sailing at the end of June. He wants to be able to take a boat out along the coast; I want to be able to sail without being afraid that we’re going to tip right over into the water. I’m tired of my engineer husband explaining to me how that isn’t logically possible; I want the confidence to have that knowledge to myself. Lee jokes that once I’ve taken a class I’ll start bossing him around and telling him what to do on the boat. Well, you really can only have one skipper on a boat at a time. Most of the time I’ll probably be content to let him do the sailing, but he’ll have a more confident and knowledgeable crew member that isn’t silently muttering “it’s tipping” to herself.


  1. Great picture and blog! Hope we can get there in August!!

  2. A buddy of mine said he owns a Compac 16. I looked up images of them and came to your blog. A nice read. Really lovely boats. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Small boats sail more often. Cheers.



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