29 August 2007

Make Sail

Last Sunday evening I did something that I had only dreamed about in the past.

I cruised on a sailboat and, for a brief few minutes, actually had the opportunity to steer. We were cruising on Schooner Woodwind II on the Chesapeake Bay, approaching the mouth of the Severn River near Annapolis Harbor. I had to use the dome of the State House as my point of reference for keeping the sails steady as she goes.

Under the easy wind conditions and light of remaining dusk, the schooner was not harder to steer than driving a car. It isn't like the tall ships of old, in that it does have a motor and it also has modern steering and components. For a few brief moments, however, I might have been sailing a fishing ship into that well-known harbor at the edge of the Chesapeake Bay.

I asked the Captain, Jen, a very gregarious lady to be sure, if a person had to grow up around sailboats to learn how to sail. "No!" said she. And she even gave me the name of a local sailing school and told me about an Annapolis-based sailing club where you share ownership in a sailboat so that you can take your turn cruising, even if you don't own your own ship. Wow!

I grew up near several large rivers, but in a very landlocked part of south-western Ohio and northern Kentucky. To be behind the wheel of a boat, any boat, is a dream come true. I always dreamed of sailing and sailboats. I think that's what lured me to Annapolis. But I was always too timid to ask people if I could go out on their boats. I supposed that I figured someday my chance would come. Well, thanks to my very generous husband who liked the idea of a Thai Dinner cruise on the Bay, I finally had my wish.

Sailing was even better than kayaking!!!! I just love being out on the water.

Here's a link to a photo of our vessel returning to Annapolis Harbor at twilight behind the Harbor Queen. See the Church steeple in the background? That's St. Mary's Cathedral.


  1. What a wonderful time that must have been! And it's opened up a whole new world of possibilities for you. I love those kinds of experiences -- especially when we're aware enough to see them for what they are!

  2. I cannot express to you how thrilling it was to be at the helm! And it was such a gorgeous evening to be out on the water.

  3. Yes! Another convert to women's sailing. If you want to get a feel for it before you sign up for a class there is a great book about learning basic sailing for women by women. Studies have shown that women approach learning sailing differently than men. If you can learn in a women supportive environment you are more likely to understand and stick with it longer. Or you can do like we did. Buy a little 10 foot sailboat and make your own mistakes. That being said most people recommend that your husband NOT teach you to sail. It's the equivalent of a man teaching his wife to drive. I have seen plenty of examples of this in action. I lucked out that my husband is a patient teacher who doesn't yell when I make mistakes.
    The book is Sailing a women's guide by Doris Colgate. They probably have it at that little bookstore downtown. They have lots of sailing books. Mike and I are hopefully going to the wooden sailboat festival in Port Townesend this next weekend. I'll let you know how it turns out.

  4. gourmetsailor, checking out women's sailing courses is a really good suggestion. Marc does have a bit of experience sailing (learned as a Boy Scout and Eagle Scout), but I would much rather learn from a pro. I think it would be great fun to take lessons. I remember reading about a women's sailing "school" somewhere in Annapolis. At the time I had no extra finances to contemplate such things, but I'm in a better place for it now.

    I'll need to check out that book sometime. I heard there is a book by a woman who sailed herself around the world. I forget her name, but it was published just a few years ago.