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post #1 of Old 07-10-2007 Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: East Amherst, NY
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Defining Moment - Now I'm a Sailor

I thought about posting this in the General Discussion area, but in the end it's about learning to sail...or maybe about learning exactly when you feel like you are a sailor.

My son and I took Basic Keelboat last summer. It was a great experience. Over the winter in Buffalo, my wife and I did some boat shopping and purchased a 1999 Beneteau Oceanis 311. We've had her out a half-dozen times including motoring up through the Welland Canal and sailing out in Buffalo Harbor and Lake Erie on nice relaxing sailing days. We've been enjoying 5-10 knot winds and small waves with my son and daughter. I was thinking to myself, chappy, you are a sailor.

Yesterday my son and I took our boat, Firefly, out with our yacht broker who is also a seasoned sailor and racer. Conditions were breezy with 15-20 knot winds and waves on the lake were about 4-5 feet with some whitecaps. We started behind the breakwall in Buffalo Harbor where the waters were calm and sailed to the southern most tip of the wall. At that point, we tacked and went out onto Lake Erie. Whoa...

...what a sweet ride! Three things happened to us as we worked the wind and waves at just over 7 knots -- we got the lee rail in the water, the bow was washed with spray in time with the waves, and neither my son nor I got sick . I realize that many of you have been on rougher, faster rides and you've braved awesome conditions. I must say though, that this was a defining moment for me. At first I was stiff as a board, holding fast and waiting to see what would happen. Soon though, I was at the helm with calm advice from my broker friend helping me to feel my way through and to trust Firefly and what she was telling me by her movements. My son, who is 12 years old, was scared only of puking. He did fantastic as crew. Once we were back behind the breakwall, we furled the genoa in and jibed to the perfect angle to sail under main back into the harbor area. It was then, in the relaxing moments at the end of the 2 hour journey, that I realized I hadn't just gone sailing like the times before -- I had become a sailor.

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