By sheer coincidence, we had two sight-impaired ladies onboard among three couples. One of them was Brenda-Ann Gillis. She ran a summer program for blind children on Florida’s Indian River. “The ages ranged from 9 or 10 up to 16. Their sighted siblings were included as part of the group, to help teach them how to sail.” Did they get it? “Oh, they totally got it, totally hands-on. Volunteer adults helped as well. It was a great program.” With that, we put Brenda on the wheel with assistance from Tom Davidson. “I can feel the pressure of the water on the rudder!” she exclaimed. “I can feel the wind. This is wonderful, very cool!”
Sailing Blind is actually a thing. Check out the video below on “Blind Sailing Week.”
Meet Braedan Cossgrove, 1 month old when he sailed the York River near Yorktown in May 2015 for the first time. He was accompanied by his older brother Dillon, age 3, who helped his grandfather Clay McEldowney of Williamsburg at the helm. The boys’ grandmother Helen Cosgrove came over from Dublin and joined the family cruise, which inspired fond memories.
“My late husband helped a friend finish out a 60-foot trawler in Ireland, and they sailed it in the Irish Sea, up the coast to Scotland, over to France and the Bay of Biscay, down to Spain and Portugal. Not to fish, just for the pleasure of it. The owner’s name was a bachelor named Frankie, and people would ask, ‘Frankie, why don’t you marry a girl?’ He would say, ‘Oh, I can’t do that. I’m married to the boat.’”
To my mind, sailing a dinghy is like riding a unicycle. Few people can do it well. The boat is too small relative to the size of the one or two crew members, unless they’re six years old in which case they’re too young to try it. The boat is extremely tippy, unresponsive, and difficult to turn.
And yet, they have dinghy races every summer for youngsters to demonstrate their skills. The Governor’s Cup on nearby Mobjack Bay tests the best young sailors in Virginia. Dinghy sailing is an Olympic sport, but it’s not much to watch unless the wind is blowing 10 mph. Many people who come to Williamsburg Charter Sails had a bad dinghy experience as a child, and they are delighted to enjoy the benefits of a big sailboat: easy to point, easy to sail, easy to cruise, sharp to turn, safe and dry.
Let’s Go Sailing Blind
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