Join Date: Feb 2006
Thanked 5 Times in 5 Posts
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Re: How did you get your start in sailing?
I sustained a pretty severe injury at the age of three. As a result I was banned from any sports activities and, generally, was not free to be a kid. But shortly before my 12th birthday my father came to the realization just how much I was missing out on. Now divorced, my 'rents had a knock down dragged out argument about this. Even though my mother had custody, my father prevailed.
The following summer I was sent off to a sailing camp for a month. It was a small, family-owned place staffed with 20 people for about 75 kids. By now the concept of my need to approach life differently is totally ingrained in me. But the counselors hadn't been indoctrinated and simply said, "Mike, if you can't do this the way we would you will just have to figure out other ways." One day Chuck Melcher, the head of sailing, asked me how it was going. I explained I was having a hard time getting over the centerboard trunk (while handling the jib) fast enough to please the skippers (more skilled campers). No problem, he said, next time you race you'll be a skipper and there will be no obstacles in your way when you tack or jibe.
I was floored. I mean, I had been so marginalized the notion I could take control was completely foreign to me. But I had some successes, like winning 2nd place in a race. And when I returned in a subsequent year for the whole 2 month program I managed to get through it all. It was an eye-opening experience. And so it is no surprise I really latched onto sailing. One summer soon thereafter I was a deck hand aboard a yacht cruising the Virgin Islands. With that experience and others, a few years later the camp hired me as a sailing counselor. For two summers I had a cabin full of 11 and 12 year old kids who, oddly enough, looked up to me. It truly was a Catcher In The Rye experience. Eat your heart out, Holden Caufield!
Chuck and everyone else from way back, if you happen to read this please know I'm forever grateful for your guidance, kindness, and friendship.