First Time Sailing

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As I sit here in Massachusetts contemplating life and this new normal. My mind drifts back to my life growing up in Trinidad in the Caribbean. In particular, one memory stands out, my first time sailing. As clear today as it was back in 1975.

Probably the biggest turning point in my life. The day I was introduced to sailing and my first time on a sailboat. Little did I know how that experience would guide my journey through life.

My dad was a harbor pilot. And though he was into fishing, many of his fellow pilots were avid sailors. One of these pilots had just bought a Pearson 26 and sailed it down to Trinidad from the Virgin Islands. And so it transpired that I was drafted into crewing for him as he wanted to race the boat. One day my dad came home from work  and informed me that I would be going sailing tomorrow.

The next day the owner and his wife and one of his friends, plus myself and 2 other boys around my age were off to sail. Only the owner and his friend who had helped him to deliver the boat had sailed before.

I can still clearly remember that day! To my untrained eye, the sea was flat calm. Now I can look back and say there was a northerly breeze about 8-10 knots. We motored out and went through the chaos of pulling up the sails. All a blur as ropes were put into untrained but willing hands. Instructions consisted of “Pull” and “Stop”.

Sails were flapping. Orders and instructions were being given. Confusion…. And then we bore off. More instructions concerning winches and clockwise and pull. Then magic! Sails filled, the boat leaned over and started moving. Engine off, and we were sailing!

To this day, I still cannot describe that feeling adequately. I stared in wonder at the sails…could not believe that these pieces of cloth could propel this ‘solid’ boat through the water at such speed. It seemed as if we were flying along! I clearly remember thinking to myself that I would be doing this forever! All of 12 years old and I was hooked!

Looking back now I still cannot believe the effect that experience had on me. The other 2 kids I started out with are still friends although they drifted away from sailing as we grew up. I have made many lifelong friends in this sport. Lived the life, raced the boats and ended up making my living from sailing. It’s been said by many that I have Peter Pan Syndrome. But I will never grow up when it comes to sailing and the water. There is no cure.

So, brings me back to the present. Sitting on my porch at twilight wondering what the future holds. Time to tell some stories. Maybe help some with advice and lessons learned over the years. We will see.

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