Setting Sails for the First Time


Setting sails for the first time.  You are told to sit in the captain’s seat and hold the tiller.  You immediately feel the power of command for the ship.  I was four years old and most of my childhood memories at that stage of my life are a blur.  But the day I was told, “Skip come sail the boat,” was as clear to me today as what I ate for breakfast this morning.

It was a beautiful June day on Pleasant Bay, Cape Cod Massachusetts.  The sail boat was an O’Day sloop rigged ship.  There was about ten knots of warm wind and I was at the helm. The first thing I was told was to turn my head so I felt the wind in my face.  “This is where the front of the boat, the bow, cannot go.”  I felt a hand over mine on the tiller pulling the helm towards me.  The warm summer breeze was creating my loud luffing sails to shake the rig of the boat.  Once the boat fell away from the head of the wind, the sails silenced and immediately filled with air, as I felt the boat list and take off, I was sailing.  I was directed to plot my coarse to a moored boat in the distance and I had my heading to my mark.  I was in a position of a grown up and it felt invigorating. The smile on my face in the June wind dried my teeth and I found such happiness sailing that boat.

I found myself returning every summer to the Cape and out sailing on the Bay throughout my childhood.  I was eventually able to sail by myself and experience independence at an early stage of my life, aboard a boat.  As a child, we want to do things grownups do…cook, drive, walk around town alone.  I yearned for that freedom to show the growups I could do that.  If it were mowing a lawn, or cooking bacon, I always wanted to help.  The wonderful thing about sailing, if you are a good Captain, you get your mates involved in helping aboard the ship.  This creates such a good sense of teamwork and camaraderie and builds a feeling of contribution for plotting your course to a successful voyage.

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