Sailing, sailing…

“You got to drift in the breeze, before you set your sails. It’s an occupation where the wind prevails. Before you set your sails, drift in the breeze.” -Paul Simon

Sailing has been a huge part of my life.  It was a serious hobby for about 6 years before I decided to abandon land living and moved on the water. I then lived aboard sailboats for 12 years and my daughter spent the first 7 years of her life living on a boat. Most of those years were spent docked in marinas while working normal jobs and sailing our home on weekends and vacations. A couple of those years were spent cruising the Intracoastal Waterway of the East Coast, roaming from place to place on a full time basis while running a small software company.

It’s a life of compromises and challenges. I enjoyed the challenge of entertaining friends and cooking full meals in a sailboat galley. I enjoyed the challenge of converting one of the two heads on our boat to a office and workshop for my jewelry making tools. Raising a kid on a boat? I was right there, having fun building our own playpen out of the ¬†converted settee, fitting a crib in the aft cabin, finding and creating multi use products that fit the live-aboard lifestyle.

But at some point those challenges no longer were exciting, but burdensome. A sea change came in my life and I moved off the boat to the relief of a spacious apartment.

I still carry many of the habits from living aboard, like conserving water, packing efficiently and owning only what I really need. But in the last few years, I’ve really missed the actual sailing- riding the wind, trimming the sails and navigating around a body of water. My life choices for the last 5 years have tied me to this house, taking care of my disabled friend and with a partner who really doesn’t want to sail. But the itch to get back on the water wasn’t going away. Rather than be sad and figure that I was done with that part of my life, I looked around for a compromise.

So last June I chartered in the Chesapeake with Wendy. 5 days out of Rock Hall, MD and it was a great time. I realized that I still had the skills and I could finally start imparting some of them to Wendy. I loved sharing the fun of sailing, my favorite memories of sailing always include friends.

Starting to plan for this year, most of the friends who wanted to sail with us were unable to commit to several days in the Chesapeake, so I took a different tack. Across the river from where we lived at the dock for a few years on Toms River is Nelson’s Sailing Center and they rent sailboats for use on Toms River and Barnegat Bay. Maybe a series of daysails through the warmer months would be an even better idea.

So one Saturday in Mid-May, Wendy, her friend Serena and I took a drive down to Nelson’s. We did the one hour orientation required for a bareboat rental and went for a 2 hour sail on Toms River. (Bareboating is renting a boat without a captain.You have to be an experienced sailor to begin with, the orientation is only to assess your readiness.)

I think I’ve found the perfect compromise to fit sailing back into my life without the expense and responsibility of owning my own boat. Many of my friends who would like to go with me are available for a day sail and at about 90 min away, it’s closer than driving to the Chesapeake.

Wendy’s Girl Scout troop was interested in having a sailing day, so yesterday 13 of us rented an O’Day 25 and took to the river in two groups. I got the chance to share my enthusiasm and knowledge of sailing with 12 other people. Some of the girls just wanted a sailboat ride, others wanted to learn more about how sailing works. They raised and trimmed the sails, steered the boat and soaked in the sun. (And what a lot of sun! The temperatures in Philadelphia were around 102, but we got a little break in Toms River because it was only 98.)

I expected to be exhausted after a day spent sailing in the sun, but I kept myself hydrated and just sharing the experience seemed to keep me really pumped the whole time. I was surprised myself at how very enjoyable it was and I’m excited to start planning my next outing and with whom?

I was thinking this morning about how we create our lives. Sure there are many things we can’t control that affect us, but it’s what we do with these situations that define who we are as individuals.

“You are never given a dream without also being given the power to make it come true. You may have to work for it, however.” – Richard Bach

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