The Call of the Sea: My First Time Sailing

I don't know what it is about the ocean.  It's big, it's vast, it's wet, and it's fascinated me ever since I first stepped foot in the Pacific back in 1993.  Since then I have been swimming and body surfing, but one thing I have always wanted to do was sail.  

Perhaps it's the ancestral Scottish blood that speaks when I look at the sailboats, or perhaps it's the thought of being able to cross vast bodies of water with nothing but the wind to push you along, but I have dreamed of getting a sailboat and sailing.  But, in order to even think about that, I first need to have experience. 

Last Saturday (May 4th), our scout troop went boating in Mission Bay.  We went to the San Diego Youth Aquatic Center on Fiesta Island and rented three kayaks, three canoes three sailboats, and one motorboat to chase after any wayward boats for 16 boys and six leaders.  It was $30 per boat, and each boat really only held two people, or three little scouts.  

We started with the canoes and kayaks, taking the boys out and watching them try to maneuver.  They got a handle on it eventually, but spent a lot of time downwind in a little bay.  Eventually the scouts got more interested in swimming in the warm water (at least 70 degrees in the bay) than boating.  We broke for Lunch, and then started out on the sailboats.  

After a 10 minute introduction to sailing, and a little time rigging up a sailboat, I was sent out with one of the scouts to give it a try.  We managed to tack without a problem a couple of times, but once trying to turn while going full out the sail de-rigged itself and left us stranded.  The scout did a great job holding us into the wind as I re-rigged the sailboat, and we were off again.  After that I took him back to the shore and set off with a another scout.  

Sailing is pretty awesome.  It's a balance of controlling the sail to keep it in the wind just enough to fill the sail and get forward thrust, while not letting it out too much as to unballance the boat (we were on little 10 footers) to tip it over.  You are controlling the mainsheet and the rudder at the same time, and it's a blast.  We sailed to one end to the other in the small part of Mission Bay, and enjoyed it.  I was told I had managed to earn my Sailing merit badge (assuming I were still young enough to earn them).  

Then the scout took over to practice.  He did pretty good with the first tack, but when turning back we caught a gust of wind, the mainsheet got caught, and it flipped us into the water.  I tell you, my Lifeproof case got a workout that day, as I treaded water and we worked to get the boat back upright again.  Incase any of you are wondering, yes, the Lifeproof case worked perfectly, even in three feet of water.  

So, did the dunking discourage me from wanting to sail?  No, other than I was freezing once I got out of the water (windchill is crazy).  But it was time to go, so we started cleaning up and putting the boats away.  But I got caught up with the fun of sailing, the simple joy, and the sheer fun of sailing.  When I got home, I immediately wanted to look up sailboats, pricing, and so on.  Not that I can afford to buy a boat (for now), and not that my wife would be too thrilled to have a sailboat anyway (for now), but it caught my imagination. 

For those who have never tried sailing, try it!  It's fun, it's not as difficult as you might think (it's just physics), and once you get the feel of it, it's pretty close to being just as fun as riding a motorcycle.