22 July 2007

Why I Sail

There are a number of reasons that I sail. I'd have to say my top reason is that sailing requires a lot of thought but with enough time all those thoughts become instinctive. There are a thousand controls to manage to make the sailboat go the way you want to with an infinite number of combinations to be most effective.

Just think about sailing upwind, you have the easy ones: tiller, main and jib sheets. Then on top of that you have outhaul, traveller, backstay, halyard tension, shroud tension, ballast management, cunningham, boomvang and more. And that's just the internal influences. You also have to worry about wind strength, tidal currents, water state, other boats, and more.

When you're first learning how to sail, you either ignore many of these or have to think about them constantly to keep the boat moving. After a while, you do it by instinct...look up, see the telltales flopping at the top of the main....easy, traveller up. Gust hits, boat heels...very simple, scream like a little girl.

And that brings us to the point. For the last year, my 6 year old daughter has been getting helmtime every time we sail. She'll take the tiller, I'll explain where we're going and talk her through steering the boat. Until yesterday.

She took the helm, I pointed to Mt. Tamalpais and she started steering. I didn't have to say a thing, she just steered. She didn't look at the tiller, she didn't look at me, she just steered. Instinctively.

There's more to this picture than this post indicates. The whole family is on the boat including the little guy huddled in his Mom's arms in not quite fear but at a minimum complete apprehension. That's, of course, another post entirely.


Carol Anne said...

There's a saying about sailing: You can learn the basics in an afternoon, and then you spend the rest of your life learning everything else.

Zen said...

Yeah, kind of like being married

Anonymous said...

As a sweeping generalization that will paint me as a sailing snob (but here goes), sailors are never tired of learning, in fact it's one of the reasons we do it. Motorboaters especially the faster boaters do it for the adrenaline rush