Sailing out of the DesertThe Collins family left Palm Springs for an East Coast vacation that included sailing on the York River. “We did New York at the beginning of the summer and are now ending the summer by doing Washington and Williamsburg,” said Leif. “We have to get back next week because school starts for the boys in mid-August. They have to start early in California to get in 187 days of teaching.

“We have some sailing but not much on the Salton Sea. It’s the biggest lake in California, and it’s 200 feet below sea level.”

Sailing out of the DesertLeif teaches math and his wife Oceana teaches history at a community college. He said, “We’re at the College of the Desert. It’s one of 120 community colleges in California, along with 20 colleges in the University of California system. We have a monopoly in the desert.”

We also had a monopoly on the water, where cloudy skies and the threat of rain dampened others’ enthusiasm—but not ours. The winds were light, so we motored out to the mouth of the river where I gave a short narration of the Battle of the Capes. Closer to Yorktown, I picked up the theme of the Battle of Yorktown and pointed out key places. They enjoyed seeing the Moore House, Redoubt 10, and the spot where the headquarters ship of Gen. Cornwallis was blown up.

Math Exercises

Sailing out of the DesertEarlier I showed the boys how to avoid a collision course by calculating the constant bearing of two boats on a decreasing range. Leif was fascinated because he uses sailing as an analogy for teaching. For example:

“A boat leaves a dock at 70 degrees south and travels east for two hours at 10 mph. What will be the bearing in two hours?” That’s a real-life problem, not just theoretical. “I use a lot of analogies to keep their attention since today’s kids don’t concentrate very well.” He loved the constant bearing exercise, which he said was based in trigonometry instead of geometry as I thought.

Sailing out of the DesertAfter two hours it began to sprinkle so I went below for rain gear. The rain started coming down and three of the four family members went below to check out the cabin. The older son Kai stood watch with me on the bridge, running the helm back to port. I escorted them to their cars before taking their rain gear. It was quite an adventure.

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