What does one do when tired of racing 28’ E Scows and big sailboats? Recently I have been sharing my love of sailing with ladies who:
1. Refuse to sail or race with their husbands
2. Want to learn to sail, and/or
3. Find sailing with a group of ladies is much more relaxing than with men.
My key to teaching ladies to sail is to get everyone relaxed. “Yea, none of us is very graceful getting into this thing,” I tell my crew. “It will be easier getting out.”
“Only one of us — me — has to get wet getting the boat off the mooring.”
Basics are stressed:
“Where is the wind coming from? Forget the fancy gadgets — wet your finger and stick it up in the air.”
“Try aiming for the top of that Royal Palm, push the tiller right to go left, left to go right.”
“Too much air, when in doubt, let it out.”
Amidst all the talk of world events, politics, weather, family, and friends, my all-female crew learns to sail without pressure.
We sometimes get into the nitty-gritty of sailing, specifically critiquing the men racing nearby in their 15’ Marshall Sandpipers:
“So-and-so just barged, in fact it looks like he hit the Committee Boat.”
“What kind of an overlap is that?”
“Doesn’t anyone realize the port end of the line is favored?”
But this kind of talk quickly gives way to more important things like following a pod of dolphins with babies, wondering what is at the bottom of that stone crab trap, and placing ourselves in a strategic spot when Boat Pix swoops overhead in their helicopter with a cameraman hanging out.
Just being out on a glistening body of water off Useppa Island in Southwest Florida is reward enough. A close friend and lyricist, Meg Robinson, once wrote about the Sea L’Eggs Ladies Sailing Group at the Little Egg Harbor Yacht Club, Beach Haven, New Jersey:
“I could change a light bulb, I could surf the net,
I could make a 10 – course dinner no one would forget.
Climb the corporate ladder, campaign for your vote.
But the one thing that I wanted was to learn to sail a boat.
I needed Sea L’Eggs, cause mine were dry,
I needed Sea L’Eggs, yes I did, let me tell you why:
Can skippers with a bust sail the Thorofare with ease?
Can women wearing lipstick take advantage of the breeze?
Got into a life vest out on the dock
Ladies were to meet there at five o’clock
I don’t need a hairy chest to navigate alone,
I can navigate a boat myself without testosterone.
I’m the captain of the vessel; I’m the sailor who’s in charge.”