Monday, August 11, 2008

Spreading the Wonder

There’s something magical about taking people sailing who have never been on our boat before. There’s something inherently beautiful about the look of wonder on the faces of our guests the first time the sails fill with wind and the boat moves without having to rely on the rumbling engine. I love hearing the questions about the various pieces of equipment on the boat, and smile about the time my brother Kaz once asked me “Hey, what’s that propane tank for?” and I dryly responded “The grill.” My dad once lifted up the plastic scissor-like object off the foredeck and asked me what it was for. When I informed him it was the pooper-scooper for cleaning up after the dogs, he winced and dropped the gadget where he'd seen it and unconscioulsy wiped his hands on his pants.

This past weekend my sister Chris and her 4 kids came to visit , and we took them for our first sail ever on Saturday. It was fun to watch my nieces and nephew, whose ages range from 4-14, stumble around on the boat as it moved beneath their feet until they eventually moved comfortably as they got used to the motion of the waves against the hull, and the slight tilt of the boat as the wind filled the sails. My sister, a mother of four who is accustomed to being at the center of the action, sat aside as I showed my nieces how to raise and lower the sails.

“It’s so nice to just sit and do nothing,” she said, sipping her wine.

“Yeah, and how often do you get to do that? Just enjoy,” I replied, laughing. She lounged on the deck of the boat, and stared up at the sails and the sky.

Chris has never seen me sail before. I’ve been a sailor for 10 years, and I’ve never had the occasion to take her out because her kids were younger and needed more of her constant attention. She watched me haul in the jib sheets to tack the boat and trim the sails. She watched me command the helm while Todd set the anchor, then pulled it in. Then I took the helm again as Todd and our 12 year old niece, Madison, took the sails in and then when we motored into the mooring field and he picked up the mooring lines and tied them to the boat.

“Wow, Beej, you really know what you’re doing,” she slightly gushed.

“I can fake it,” I shrugged.

“Don’t let her fool you,” Todd beamed at Chris, “Your sister’s a sailor.”

“I dare you to take your hands off the steering wheel,” our 10 year old nephew, Spencer, interjected, trying to incite daring recklessness in his aunt.

I took my hands off the wheel, shook them around over my head with reckless abandon and said “AAAAGGGHHHHH!!!!” He nervously laughed and stared at me in awe. In Spencer’s experience, in cars and motor boats, one does not take their hands off the wheel for fear of losing control over the vehicle. But on a sailboat it’s different, and I explained it to him. Things happen a lot slower on a cruising sailboat like ours. I told him that it’s still vitally important to pay attention at all times, the captain doesn’t have to grip the wheel constantly when there aren’t any obstacles near by. Spencer seemed intrigued by the concept, and tested it out when it was his turn to take the wheel.

One by one they explored every inch of the boat, above and below decks. Rachael learned to raise the sails. Madison recited the names of the sails and ropes that operate the sails that she had just learned from her Uncle Todd. Spencer checked the depth gauge at the helm and periodically reported the current depth of the water beneath us. Cassidy stood on her 4 year old tip toes and strained to see over the compass located just behind the steering wheel, as she captained the boat.

And I fought back the tears of joy and pride at having my family thoroughly enjoy something that is such a large part of my life.

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Blogger The Creeper said...

You have no idea just how hard I laughed at the image of your dad picking up the pooper-scooper. I made my own dog jump.

Glad you had a great time with your sister, nieces and nephews. One of these days you will to introduce me to sailing, too.

P.S. - I can just see you taking your hands off the wheel and waving them over your head like a lunatic. See. It

August 11, 2008 at 4:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That sounds like a lot of fun, although I admit wondering if I'd be chucking my lunch at the time.

August 12, 2008 at 8:34 AM  
Blogger Jansky T said...

That's awesome!

August 12, 2008 at 9:03 AM  
Blogger BJ Knapp said...

Sue--Yeah, you have to shake it up around kids, you know? (Of course you know!)

Izzy Bitch Taoista--Calm seas=no upchucky.

Kevin--OMG, it really was awesome. I love taking kids sailing, you know, when they are old enough to respond to what Todd and I are asking them to do, and they aren't too old to find what we're asking to be lame. I love how excited Madison was about trimming sails and helping out.

August 12, 2008 at 9:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That sounds like a great time! I bet the kids went home & told tales of being out to sea for DAYS!

August 12, 2008 at 11:04 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

That will be a memory those kids will hold onto forever.

August 12, 2008 at 2:56 PM  

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