CONFESSIONS OF AN ITINERANT SAILOR
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” I better not use that here as I’m sure it sounds familiar and I can’t afford a law suit. I also can’t afford a sailboat, but love to sail. I lucked into NWSA, a group of Sailors who want to share their experiences with us “Itinerant Sailors.”
Itin-er-ant: An adjective meaning to journey
Unlike Ulysses, I didn’t journey far. Last year I sailed with Bob Carter and Russ Nelson on John Karklins’ 30ft Allied ketch “Zvirbulis III” from Manitowoc, WI to Belmont Harbor. With Cy Race on “Sea Major” we journeyed to Montrose Harbor twice for the Ed Gans Memorial and Montrose II club sails as well as the Milwaukee Rendezvous.
Northpoint I on “Sea Major” in the fog, Racine I on Rex Miller’s “Shadowbox”, Start of the Mac on “Sun Runner” with Jeanette Jarosz, Monroe Sail on Larry Makowski’s “Sea Hawk” rounded out the 2008 club sailing events. Weekday and other weekend sails with Cy Race, Russ Nelson on “Gawdelpus” and Wayne Eisel on “Carpe Datum” gave me the time and experience to award myself a title, Hand.
The first time I felt a breeze fill a sail and push me forward was on a Hobie Cat on “Y” shaped Lake Thompson in Rhinelander, WI. The two inept sailors on board had trouble because the lake was narrow and surrounded by 20 to 40 foot pine trees that blocked what little wind there was in the middle of August. Our goal was to circle a small island that was in one of the arms of the “Y”. We were only able to do it once during our two weeks vacation.
Some years later, I lived at Woodland Creek in Wheeling,IL where there was a small pond surrounded by five 8 story apartment buildings and four Sunfish boats to use on the pond. The breeze to sail was provided because of the venturi effect of the air being compressed between the buildings. I would check out a mast/boom, daggerboard, sail, and tiller w/rudder, don my PFD wade out with two beers and float from one short breeze between building to the next. I was in heaven!
Three years ago Margaret Fritzinger invited Diane and me to join NWSA. We met John and Joan Bur- den and were welcomed to the club. Since then, Diane and I have met and enjoyed the friendship of many of you “Sailors”. Thank you for that camaraderie.
This essay is directed to new NWSA members and some not so new members as a “How To Guide”. First read the Mission Statement on the “Communique” you receive each month. The boat owners want to share and are ready and willing and able to help us, without boats, learn to help them sail their boats.
The directory lists the names of the owners, their boats, the harbor locations, and when they are avail- able to sail. Come to the third Monday of the month meetings and make yourself known. In the Spring of the year make yourself available to help prepare boats for launch. My first chance to help was nothing more than helping from the ground and passing up the ladder tools and hoses while manning the faucet on and off. Communicate your skills and availability.
On cruises, step up to learn how to leave the mooring or dock. A rope when it is part of a sailboat be- comes a Halyard, a Sheet, a Line or a Mooring. Halyards raise sails, Sheets control sails. There are lines called; Outhaul, Topping lift, Reefing, Traveler, Vang, ask what they are and where they are. Take them one at a time. Docking lines are Bow, Stern, Spring, and Fender see how they are secured. Watchas the crew lend hands as they prepare to leave and return to the dock or mooring.
Many of the skippers sail during the week and can use a hand willing to learn. Any number of those single-handers appreciate a crewman willing to learn for no other reason than to be on hand in an emergency. Ask where the radio is and how to send a message for help.
A Skipper looked me straight in the eye last sum- mer and said, “ I think I’ll sell my boat. Then I’ll join a sailing club. I’ll sign on to crew and sail Lake Michigan two to three times a week all summer”. I felt embarrased and then I realized I was being complemented. I know he was happy to have me aboard because I want to continue to learn.
Again, let me remind you to study the Member’s Directory, especially the Crew Responsibilities. Start to learn the Sailor’s language. The Glossary at the rear of the book is great place to start.
“Learn to feel the wind.”
A special thanks to those I’ve sailed with in the past two years:
- John and Joan Burden on Andiamo
- Wayne Eisel on Carpe Datum
- Jeanette Jarosz on Sun Runner
- John Karklins on Zvirbulis III
- Mike and Debbie Kenny on Debbia
- Larry Makowski on Seahawk
- Rex Miller on Shadowbox 3
- Russ and Doris Nelson on Gawdelpus
- Cy and Terry Race on Sea Major
- Courtney and Jason Smith on Windswept
Cy Race, Russ Nelson, Bob Carter, John Karklins, George Andersson, Irv Mischler, Mary Gynn my sailing buddies and especially Margaret Fritzinger.