Since we aren’t moving around much right now, I thought I would share a story I wrote as an assignment a few years ago about how this whole “living on a boat” thing started for me. Originally, this was a three part story, per the parameters of the instructions, and it focuses on my experience. Sorry to be so egocentric today. I hope you enjoy reading it…
Deshaies, Guadeloupe river hike.
Water and sound. Two things that invigorate me. From the time I was very young, think three or four, I loved to swim. I was a fish! In fact, during the summer, missing a trip to the pool might have caused my gills to dry out and I could have died! Thank goodness my mom was pretty dedicated to making sure I had plenty of time for swim team and spring board diving!
Sound is also essential to me. But sound goes two ways for me. I love all sorts of music, but there are times when noise overwhelms me and I need silence or the simple sounds of nature. Take jet skis. Man those things are great! They fuel my desire for speed and do it on the water! However, I just can’t take the engine noise for long. Pretty quickly I seek out a quiet cove, turn off the engine and allow myself to soak in the beauty of the water and the fabulous harmony of nature’s songs.
Knowing these two facets to my person, how did I manage to live for half of a century without discovering sailing? A sailboat combines water, movement and quiet! Sailing had never really entered my radar, but once it did, I was convinced it would be perfect for me! And since Frank had grown up sailing, he was interested in picking it up again and thought it would be the perfect sport for us to share.
Let It Be “racing” in Georgetown, Bahamas
Not one to let opportunity pass me by, I signed up for my first sailing class: American Sailing Association 101. And Frank, who is like the Chinese water torture once he gets an idea in his head, decided to take sailing matters into his own hands. He signed us both up for a 4 day, live on board, sailing class which would begin the day after I finished ASA 101. He grew up sailing and was determined I should catch the sailing bug.
I thought for sure sailing would be an easy and natural fit for me, but…
Have you ever heard a sailor talk? It’s a whole new language on a boat! Why can’t a rope be a rope? Because on a sailboat it’s a halyard or a sheet depending on its function!
I tried so hard to learn all the terms and jargon before my first sailing class, but I was lost. Words and I are friends, but wow did the sailing terms throw me for a loop! I finally managed to learn all the parts of a monohull sailboat once I actually stepped on board for my sailing classes.
Have you ever been on a monohull on a windy day, when you aren’t very sure of what you are doing or which “line” goes to what sail? Well add in the experience of heeling and I was in a whole new world! For those of you who don’t know, heeling is when the boat tilts to one side because of the pressure of the wind on the sail. Holy wind force, Batman! That was a seriously unexpected and upsetting experience for me.
Here I was trying to put my new sailing terminology to use only to be thrown about by the inanimate boat from hell that arched up on one side and left me clinging to anything stable to remain on board!
Photo from internet
Needless to say, learning to sail was not the seamless, docile experience I had expected. Do you remember that song, “Sailing” by Christopher Cross? Yeah, well, that song is misleading! My first sailing experience was anything but relaxed and lackadaisical! Mostly what I remember from my very first sailing experience was having strange terms thrown at me, “come about!” and ducking for dear life as the sail swung from one side of the boat to the other, barely missing my head!
Still, I was not willing to give up on sailing and I soon managed to become proficient enough to stay on board, understand the language and adjust to life on a tilt.
However, after the first four day trip Frank and I took on a sailboat, I was really sad. There I was, on a boat in the British Virgin Island, sailing on the clearest water you can imagine and I was not loving it. My little, sprouting dream of adventurous sailing with sea spray bursting around the boat and me smiling at the helm was dying as I tried to adjust to my new hobby.
I wasn’t sure what to do. I now possessed certifications for Sailing 101 and 103, but somehow my sea legs had not developed and Frank had become more and more enamored with the idea of LIVING on a sailboat!…
Swell. My husband is now convinced that our future should include LIVING on a sailboat and all I can think is, “There is no way in hell I can live out my life on a boat, looking out a tiny window just above the water line, hanging on as the boat tilts to 45 degrees and I try to make some sort of dinner in the galley!”
By the end of our four days on the monohull, I didn’t care how beautiful the surroundings were or how “cool” it was to move from place to place using only the forces of nature. I was not going to live on a boat. I love Frank but this was not the life for me.
To make matters worse, we had already paid for another four more days of sailing, this time just the two of us. No instructors, just us! I was ready to forfeit my money and head back home. However, my resourceful husband had a plan. He is a tenacious person and was not willing to give up on this whole idea of living on a boat.
No need to hold on when we don’t heel.
So, he leased a catamaran instead! For those who don’t know, a catamaran has two hulls and much of the living area is above the waterline, and there is NO HEALING! Have I told you that I love my husband?
Some people refer to catamarans as “condo-marans” because of the extra space they have. Sailing purists don’t appreciate cats much, but for me, this was a whole new and fabulous experience! No longer was I stuck “down” in the galley (kitchen). Instead I could cook above the water line and have a 360 view. I could set down my coffee and the cup would not slide off the counter and throw the contents all over the boat. Life could be lived the way it was supposed to be – upright, not at an angle!
No heeling, no sliding.
Five years ago Frank leased that catamaran. Today, I am a fairly accomplished catamaran sailor. I have taken two girls only trips where I am the captain and even my non-water, non-sailing friends have a great time swishing through the water, propelled by wind, without the sound of an engine. And all of them know a good bit about how to handle a sailboat.
While a monohull is a beautiful, graceful sailboat, give me a cat any day! Let those sailing purists live at a tilt. Me, I’ll take the grief for my “condo-maran” and enjoy my coffee while sitting or standing perpendicularly, just as God intended!
Regular readers know that we have realized our dream and have lived on board s/v Let It Be for almost two years. My sailing experiences have taught me to better appreciate the beauty and benefits of monohulls too, but I’m still partial to catamarans.
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