Learning to Sail – Again

It was a humbling day.  Although I fancy myself an experienced sailor—I sailed across the Pacific Ocean in 1987—I felt totally out of control on today’s race around the buoys off Oceanside Harbor. 

I forgot to tie a knot in the end of the jib line, so everything snarled when the captain raised the sail.

I forgot about balancing the boat … moving to the high side to offset the force of the wind in the sails … moving to the stern so the bow would ride high in the water.

I couldn’t remember which direction to push the tiller when we needed to tack (turn) to starboard (right).

For the first hour of our sail, I wanted to take a long walk off a short plank.  And then, in a flash, I realized why this was happening.  The simple fact is that a 23-ft day-sailer bears only the slimmest resemblance to my 37-ft ocean-going yacht.  

On the 13-ton cruising vessel my husband and I sailed across the Pacific, nothing I did with my measly 130 pounds of body weight would have any effect on the boat’s balance.  On a day-racer weighing less than 1,000 pounds, every ounce counted.  

On a cruiser with a steering wheel, you drive it like a car.  If you want to go to starboard, you turn the wheel to the right.  On a day-sailer, you push the tiller left, exactly the opposite of what comes naturally.  In fact, I was a novice, totally out of my depth. 

I had to learn to sail all over again … a different type of sailing, but in its own way, just as glorious. I mean, really, what can be better than learning to sail on a sunny afternoon racing around the buoys off Oceanside.  

Even if you lose the race.