What it Takes to Sail
What it takes to sail on the expansive York River is grit, determination, skill – or none of the above. You can make it as challenging as you like, or just relax to enjoy the adventure.
A certain amount of agility is needed to get on and off a boat. The tides run two feet at the extreme, so one has to step up or step down. For those who desire, Let’s Go Sail can move the boat to a floating dock, which affords the easiest access by simply crossing a level threshold.
Some stamina is needed but not much. Guests with allergic or asthmatic conditions will find the fresh air exhilarating. Those who have trouble moving around will enjoy either one of the catbirds as the best seat in the house. Others use the cockpit seats as the aqua equivalent of a couch, and just sit there enjoying the great outdoors.
Sailboats have a tendency to lean slightly, or heel. This is normal and expected. Once you get the rhythm of heeling, it’s quite enjoyable. One has to adjust one’s inner gyroscope to maintain stability—or balance. As long as you’re sitting down, it’s an issue.
Some arm strength is useful if you choose to pull the lines on the sails. It’s a wonderful experience to run a boat by adjusting the sheets (lines) because it puts the power of the wind in your hands, literally. On the other hand, most people let the skipper run the sheets. Your choice. Mild arm strength is required to run the helm. If the wheel gets stiff, we simply spill more wind to ease the stress.
A good grip on the sheets helps turn the sails properly. A sort of ballet takes place as the boat tacks through the wind because the hands are used to pass the sail across the boat. Nothing tricky, just a little experience does the job. The most fun occurs when we put up the spinnaker, which takes a modicum of teamwork and timing.
Standing on a boat requires the balance cited above. There is no kicking or lifting required of the legs. It’s simply a matter of positioning one’s legs to be in position to pull the sheets. Most people who run the helm like to stand because it gives them a better view. Others sit.
Good vision is vital for noticing hazards on the horizon such as oncoming ships or storms. The skipper is adroit at this, alert for all things on the water. I once had a fellow who saw a vague military ship five miles out and correctly described it as a USCG cutter instead of a Navy warship. From that distance, it’s hard to tell. I’ve also had blind people aboard, and they proved magnificent on the helm because their senses were so acute.
This may be the least required attribute on the water, which explains why deaf people enjoy sailing so much. The only problem for some people is stability because their balance is affected by deafness.
This is perhaps the greatest attribute on a sailboat, for it opens your eyes to myriad possibilities of adventure and excitement. Feel free to ask questions about the boat’s operation, how sailing works, or life in general on the water. It’s fabulous.
Finally, one needs to know the fundamentals of sailing. Jenn Miller has packaged a 7,000-word how-to blog that is full of tips and advice for the novice sailor. Browse her invaluable link here and bookmark it for future reference.
Let’s Go Sail, and test yourself
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