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Old 01-30-2013
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Re: How did you get your start in sailing?

I was about 30 years old. At the time, I was in the US Army, on a two year exchange with the Canadian Military teaching tactics and engineering at their military engineer school in British Columbia. One day, I was reviewing my goals – professional, financial, personal. The professional and financial goals were pretty straightforward, but I was struggling to come up with some good personal goals. Then it hit me – I wanted to learn to sail.

No sooner I had written down “learn to sail” as a personal goal, when Major John Hanson came into the room where we tactics instructors had our desks and announced, “I’ve just been assigned the additional duty of Commodore of the Canadian Forces Sailing Association and I need two vice-commodores. Any volunteers?”

All of us being good soldiers, none of us volunteered, at which point Major Hanson threw out an incentive and offered, “I’ll teach you how to sail.” My hand went up without me even willing it so.

So, there I was, the newly anointed vice-commodore of training, no less, despite never having set foot on a proper sail boat. When Commodore John realized that I truly knew nothing, he set out to make good his promise with a vengeance. Our school was between courses, so for the next eight weeks, I was given an intensive course of study – navigation, seamanship, and of course, handling a sailboat. Most of the instructors were Canadian naval officers and at the end of it all, I tested out on the Canadian Yacht Association sailing standards for advanced cruising.

Within a year, John was re-assigned and I was elevated to Commodore. It was quite a gig. I got to sail around 45 days a year, many of them on duty with the club. Nothing like starting out at the top, eh?
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