Lightwind Dinghy Sailing

Michele and I have our fifth sailing lesson tonight… the lessons have definitely been worth it! We went in to the lessons not expecting to learn much in the way of “book” knowledge about sailing, our goal was to gain confidence by putting our book knowledge to the test. In someone else’s boat. By no means am I saying that we know even half of everything there is to learn about sailing, but reading every sailing book between here and the library has put our brains beyond beginner sailing classes. Our confidence and experience just needed to catch up.

Our first lesson consisted entirely of tying bowlines and explaining that you cannot sail into the wind… so far that has been the most “instructing” that has been offered in our class. One of the instructors put it best, “You don’t learn sailing by sitting there looking at a picture of a boat, you learn sailing by sitting on a boat.” Makes sense.

Almost the same thing. Almost.

We haven’t been disappointed. Every class since we have simply sailed the dinghies around while the instructors motor around and try to make sure the students don’t kill themselves. Several other students have said they are overwhelmed by the trial by fire method of learning to sail, but its exactly how I started. We have a choice of three types of dinghies in our class: the JY15, the Zuma, and the Laser. Obviously I chose the Laser. The Laser is a reactive, fast, and fun boat that will allow me to get the most out of the sailing class.

Unfortunately the wind was nearly non-existent during our first two lessons. We are talking 1-2 knot gusts. My Laser still moved in the water, but just. Michele’s Zuma didn’t stand a chance, however. She’s since seen the light and moved on to a Laser Radial.

The real fun started this past Monday when the wind was a consistent 8 knots with gusts up to 13 knots. Fully expecting to capsize within the first five minutes, I cast off in my miniature boat (No offence professional dinghy sailors… you just don’t go cruising in a Laser). Once I got out of the shallows the boat caught the wind and shot off like, well, a laser. I had read about hiking, watched videos, and listened to first hand stories from saltier sailors than I… let’s just say they don’t do it justice. Hanging entirely outside of a boat with your head below the deck (but above the waterline, hopefully), with the knowledge that your weight is the only thing stopping you from tasting the river is exhilarating. It’s also highly conducive to learning fast.

To be honest, up to this point I have viewed sailing as a means to an end. If I wanted to be able to live on a boat in the tropics, visiting new places and diving the best sites in the world, I needed to know how to sail. Sure you can motor between ports, but we don’t want to have to deal with multi-hundred dollar fuel ups at each stop. Sailing my Laser has been the first time that sailing has been fun simply for the sake of sailing. With the experience and confidence gained through these lessons, I’m sure our MacGregor will be able to live up to its full potential.

Follow your Dreams. Follow the Horizon.