I was eight years old when my father took a military surplus life raft, sandwiched it between two sheets of plywood that were pointy at one end, and attached a shallow keel and a mast. My mother sewed up a sail, using an old bed sheet and I had a sail boat. It was a bitch to tack and I still remember how elated I felt whenever I managed to do so without resorting to the paddle. Because it was so difficult to sail well, it taught me a lot. Later when I was 14 my father and I rebuilt a Dyer Dinghy, one of the old cedar over oak ribs ones. That was a blast to sail. In a stiff breeze she would get up and plane on a broad reach. She was also an excellent rowing boat and many's the time I rowed from Woods Hole to Tarpaulin Cove, which, incidentally, is how the mail used to be delivered to the post office there in the early 1900's in a sailing dory.
My parents were fantastic, encouraging me to strike out on my own at an early age. Thinking about it later on when I was a parent myself, and looking at the parents around me that were so protective of their children, never letting them off the apron strings, I realized how lucky I was to have had parents who helped instill confidence and allowed me to have adventures. Some of which were truly life threatening, and although I never told my parents I'm sure they guessed.
That feeling of being able to go anywhere in a boat that someone else here talked about struck a chord. I spent my summers sailing around on Vineyard Sound and Buzzard's Bay. Between the strong tidal currents and the many rock formations it was a good place to learn and there was an endless supply of places to explore, from Pleasant Bay to Block Island.
Later on in life after a divorce I bought a Tartan 27 and sailed it for a few years in those same waters. I sold it in order to go RVing fulltime and now I'm back to boats with a Nimble Kodiak that I bought with full knowledge aforehand of its less than gracefull looks and poor windward abilities. I bought it to explore the inland waterways, both US and Canadian. A stinkpot would have made more sense but I couldn't bring myself to actually owning one. This way I'm hoping to utilise the sails as much as possible. Of course I'll certainly get to use the sails on the lakes, Champlain, the Great lakes, etc. Once I whittle the to do list down and put the Susan D back in the water I'll post some feedback on just how well she sails, or not.
Nick, 1993 26' Nimble Kodiak s/v Susan D