Friday, November 21, 2008

First Sailing Experiences

So what have I done since the epiphany of sailing? Well, as I mentioned in the old story, the first thing I needed to do was to learn how to sail, and what it would take to fulfill the dream.

My history with sailing is quite limited. I have been on many boats and even have operated a good few of them, but I have never been on a real ocean-going sailboat (that I can remember). I've putted around the St. Johns in little sailing dinghys and I've ridden sailboards. So the concept of sailing was with me, but I had a lot to learn. I also had to learn if I acutally liked sailing in the first place. To that point, it was just an idea of something I thought I would like.

In the Summer of 2007 I enrolled in a sailing school near my parent's place in St. Augustine and took the first two American Sailing Association (ASA) sailing courses: ASA 101 (the basic keel boat certification), and ASA 103 (Basic Coastal Cruising). I took a three day course to finish both certifications and passed with flying colors. Not only that, but I confirmed my suspicions that sailing was incredibly badass! The first day was going over the basics on a small J-24 (24 foot racing boat). We learned the points of sail, rigging basics, how to trim the sails, etc and ended up with a good day of light winds to learn with. I was on the boat with a team of two sons with their father. They werent as enthusiastic about it as me, and they were kind of snobbish, but I was able to get into my own world and enjoy it all. I immersed myself in everything around me so I could learn all that was possible in my short time on the water. The second and third days were spent on a boat a little more like what I will be going on off-shore, a Catalina 30. The boat was huge to me, and I was in awe of the cabin and all of the things on the boat that made it work. This was my first time on a real sailboat with liveaboard capabilities and I used the chance to explore every nook and cranny. We went into the ocean on both days and enjoyed perfect light winds and smooth seas. Below are some pictures from the last day:

The view of St. Augustine from the ocean

Me on the helm

Lovely water with critters galore!

Any time I wasnt in the cockpit learning the ropes, I was chilling everywhere I could on the deck

At the end of the course, I took my tests and got nearly perfect grades. I never enjoyed learning about something so much in my entire life, I knew this was the thing for me. Aside from learning the basics of sailing, I learned how much fun the activity is. The only thing that is more peaceful than being pushed along the water by mother nature is riding a wave on a surfboard. The two are very similar, and in my dreams, complimentary (sailing to find waves).

After the lessons, I was set to continue learning all about sailing and to improve my skills. I immediately began buying the best books I could find about sailing and off-shore voyaging. In just a few short months, I would return to the same marina and rent out a J-24 again with some friends. That day was one I will never forget, and I'll tell you about it next post

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