My first sail was on a rented Aquacat 12 on a rainy, blustery day in Maryland
. The year was 1962 and I was 16. The foam ball on top of the mast
should have given me a clue about the ability of the little boat to stay planted on two hulls. The sail stick on my boat pointed towards the clouds all day but my friend, who owns an Aquacat blew over three times. I instinctively seemed to know what to do. Maybe it was just the fear of being a non-swimmer and I was in survival mode.
I've always taken some ridicule about being a sailor and a non-swimmer but I've justified it by telling the non-believers that being a sailor that can't swim is no different than being an airline pilot who can't fly.
After wearing out my friend's Aquacat my wife allowed me to purchase
a brand new Hobie 16. I still remember the pride as I look back on the old boat with the sail number 10822. That old Hobie served me well for many years and I discovered that my favorite times to sail were in somewhat adverse conditions. That boat was in the water
nearly every weekend during the spring and summer and was always a part of our vacation
1984 saw the departure of my faithful Hobie and the purchase of a brand new NACRA 5.8. That was like going from a 4 cylinder sports car to a Porsche 911S. There were so many more options on sail trim and the speed was and still is amazing. Now I was getting involved in downhauls to depower the main, barberhaulers for downwind sailing and high aspect ratio daggerboards and rudders for pointing ability.
I still have that old boat and have went through several sets of Kevlar sails
and new trampolines over the years. I still find that enjoyment of the boat includes the leisurely sails
in 10 knots and real fun in 25 knots, hung out on the trapeze with my hair on fire. I'm now nearly 65 years old and the NACRA and I can and do give sailing lessons to the new generation of beach cat sailors. I may not always win but I'm always in the lead pack.
My younger sailing brethren have given me much pleasure over the years and I have been presented with some pretty amazing recognition. I am "Sailbad the Sinner" and a brass plaque on my rear crossmember reminds us all that "Old Age and Treachery will Overcome Youth and Skill."
Now as I've just retired I'll go find me a suitable cruising boat that is bluewater capable and rent my home to some couple trying to get a fresh start. I have a 36 foot motorhome and I want a boat about the same length. The marina must have storage
for my NACRA because a 6 knot
cruiser may not create enough adrenaline to keep the ole' heart pumping as I feel it should. I know there will be times that a cruiser will be involved in some situations that will raise the heart rate but on a daily basis I don't think so.
I've done a lot of sailing on my cousin's 26 foot sloop
and have never had anything near a problem. I believe that's because of all the books
I've read over the years that deal with storm tactics, shorthanded sailing and general life aboard. I realize that I don't have all the requisite skills to attempt an Atlantic crossing
but I will shortly as I deal with the quirks and idiosyncrasies of my new floating home.
If there is reincarnation I was a man of the sea in a previous life. It's where I am the happiest and most a peace with myself and my creator. I've got pictures drawn by me in first grade that depict sailboats weathering storms. I dunno why it's just what I've always enjoyed. Hopefully, my dream will continue as I start a new chapter in my life and once again return to the sea from whence I came.