Next door to the National Sailing Hall of Fame lies the United States Naval Academy, with a visitor center that heralds sailing among many other traditions. Near the entrance is the plaque to Commodore John Barry. He was the first officer commissioned, and by George Washington no less.
Inside the visitor center are images of myriad ships at sea under American command. I once met a young man in Annapolis who was seated next to me in an ice cream parlor. His coat was emblazoned with “Navy Sailing.” It turned out he was a member of the offshore team. That entailed Newport to Bermuda, among other races. He talked about it like it was just a diversion, because it surely was. He underwent one of the most rigorous academic and professional programs in the country. To get a sense of what offshore sailing is like for the Navy, take a look at the sailboat Brave atop the blog.
The visitor center includes a 15-minute orientation film geared to high school students considering the Academy. Among the ships portrayed are advanced submarines. The mission of the Academy is to develop students morally, mentally and physically as leaders of tomorrow.
Not all the ships are battle-worthy. One window shows a fleet of one-design sailboats with their Navy blue and gold spinnakers flying downwind.
I left the visitor center to go out to the water and see the campus from the coast. Along came a contemporary sailboat chugging along in the cold air. The skipper had his lifelines adorned with Christmas lights for a lighted parade.
Nearby, the Annapolis Yacht Club was rocking with a pre-Christmas bash involving scores of people. Everyone was excited about the Army-Navy football game the next day. No wonder Annapolis is the Sailing Capital of America.
Let’s go sail