The joys of day­sail­ing; count­ing reef da­m­age; tips to help you sail bet­ter

Alan Keene has found six keys to un­lock­ing the joy of day­sail­ing

SAIL - - January 2019 Vol 50, Issue 1 -

Let’s be hon­est. Day­sail­ing, not cruis­ing the Caribbean or rac­ing solo roundthe-world, is what most of us sailors do. Be it on diminu­tive Stock­ton Lake in south­west Mis­souri, on Ch­e­sa­peake Bay with its 11,000 miles of shore­line or on the chilly wa­ters of Puget Sound, most of us do our sail­ing one day at a time. While we love read­ing about the ad­ven­tures of the “sail off into the sun­set” crowd, the re­al­ity is that most of us will never see that prover­bial sun set more than a few miles from our home port.

But be­fore we start feel­ing sorry for our­selves, let’s count our nau­ti­cal bless­ings and see what we can do to en­hance them. Aside from the in­her­ent fun of our sport, day­sail­ing, un­like its more ex­otic sib­lings, of­fers us a unique es­cape from the pres­sures of ev­ery­day life in the “real” world. When that morn­ing staff meet­ing goes awry or the backup on the belt­way is a lit­tle more mad­den­ing than usual, many of us can be out on the wa­ter within an hour. No weeks of plan­ning or prepa­ra­tion nec­es­sary: just the de­sire for the wind and the waves to work their magic in time for din­ner.

When old friends drop by for a week­end visit, a Satur­day sail of­fers us the op­por­tu­nity to catch up on each other’s lives while en­joy­ing the views from our float­ing pa­tio, all the while leav­ing Sun­day for more shore­bound ac­tiv­i­ties. And, of course, on those wel­come oc­ca­sions when there’s no­body to en­ter­tain, that Sun­day sail is a fit­ting re­ward for a Satur­day spent mow­ing and weed­ing and trim­ming.

As a day­sailor for over 35 years, I’ve learned a few se­crets along the way that make my day afloat a lit­tle more en­joy­able. Some of these may work for you, too.

1. For­get about a des­ti­na­tion—just sail!

Some­where in­grained in the Amer­i­can psy­che is the be­lief that for an ac­tiv­ity to be worth­while it needs to have a goal, a tar­get or a des­ti­na­tion. But why? To me, the beauty of day­sail­ing is that I’m un­con­strained. I can sail wher­ever the wind and wa­ter al­low me, with no need to force a tack or pinch to hold one. And if we want to stop for lunch or a swim, we drop the hook wher­ever we find our­selves. That free­dom and lack of struc­ture is our “des­ti­na­tion.”

2. Cap the knot­meter: who cares?

Af­ter years of watch­ing our speed and tweak­ing to max­i­mize it, I dis­cov­ered that sail­ing be­came a lot more fun af­ter our knot­meter went on the fritz a few years back. Those mini-ad­just­ments that kept me hop­ping all those years didn’t seem so im­por­tant any­more. And my ir­ri­ta­tion with the fluky Ch­e­sa­peake Bay winds, when our speed would drop be­low 3 knots, all but dis­ap­peared. I didn’t know, so I didn’t care.

3. Don’t plan any­thing else for the day, ex­cept a late din­ner!

When Peg, my first mate, and I de­cide to go for a day­sail, we make sure our sched­ule is open for the rest of the day. And if it’s not, we open it. There are few things more ex­as­per­at­ing for a day­sailor than to chase the wind all day and then have it strengthen just as you’re drop­ping your sails to head in for a Lion’s Club meet­ing that evening (no of­fense to the Lions, but…). On the Ch­e­sa­peake, the wind seems to know when it’s been out­ranked and it doesn’t like it much.

4. Leave the boss and the pho­bics be­hind

With the limited amount of move-around space on a sail­boat, you can’t just hide or take a walk to get away from your guests. There­fore, it’s para­mount that you know who you’re invit­ing aboard and what their “id­iosyn­cra­cies” are. If you want to avoid a blood cur­dling scream mid-sail, make sure that your guests un­der­stand two facts. 1) sail­boats heel (some­times dra­mat­i­cally) and 2) spi­ders like to stow away in the rig­ging and can make sur­prise en­trances. As for your boss, if you don’t want to spend the en­tire day try­ing to im­press, leave him or her on the dock with the arachno­phobes.

5. In­sist that all elec­tronic de­vices are turned off

Like the saloon-keeper did back in the old west, make your guests “leave ‘em at the door!” Like the blood-cur­dling screams of arac­no­phobes, a ring tone aboard makes my skin crawl. A sail­ing friend told me re­cently that he asks his guests to put their phones in the chart table un­til they’re back on dry land. “Some don’t... most do,” he said. If a guest can’t be in­com­mu­ni­cado for a few hours in a day, then maybe an invitation to go sail­ing isn’t one he should ac­cept.

6) Re­al­ize how lucky you are to be a day­sailor. The grass isn’t al­ways greener.

For me, one of the true joys of day­sail­ing is the soli­tude it pro­vides. Within an hour, a day­sailor in Bos­ton or Chicago or San Diego or San Francisco or Mi­ami or wher­ever can go from the con­trolled chaos of urban life to the peace­ful­ness that com­muning with na­ture brings. We’re very lucky to be day­sailors, you know. We have the best of both worlds. s

One of the best things about day­sail­ing is be­ing able to leave your shore­side cares be­hind

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.