Nick and I both grew up camping and hiking, and it’s something we continue to enjoy doing. For awhile now though, we’ve found ourselves drawn more and more to the water, and last year we started tossing around the idea of buying a boat. Washington, D.C. lies along the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay is a short 30-45 drive away, making it a very active maritime community.
Last fall, we attended the Annapolis boat show, one of the largest in the world, and it got us even more excited about the prospect of becoming boaters. After a fair amount of online searching for powerboats, Nick voiced his interest in sailboats. The majority of our past boating experiences have been on powerboats, so the idea of learning to sail seemed like an exciting adventure to us. After reading a few sailing books this spring, we decided we needed some actual sailing experience to determine if a sailboat purchase was actually the right course for us.
That eventually led us to a four day, live-aboard sailing course in Rock Hall, Md., about two hours from D.C. The on-board course, which we successfully completed earlier this month, offered a great opportunity for us to get experience living, sleeping and eating aboard a sailboat.
The Delmarva Sailing School is taught aboard a 39-foot Pearson and during the four days we completed two written and skills tests to receive our American Sailing Association 101 and 103 certifications in basic sailing and cruising (for larger boats over 26 feet). We dutifully studied our course books in the weeks before the class and it paid off, Nick got only one question wrong on both tests, I got a few more wrong than that, but we both learned so much and passed the tests with flying colors.
During the first two days we were joined aboard by a father-daughter duo, but the last two days it was only Nick and me, which gave us a lot of individual practice and time to pick the captain’s brain about a variety of maritime matters.
We had very light winds the first two days, so we practiced motoring with the engine, putting up and down the sails, hooking mooring balls and tying a variety of essential sailing knots.
Thankfully, on our third day, we had great winds and were able to sail across the Chesapeake to our favorite city, Annapolis, were we moored overnight and took the dinghy into town for dinner.
We woke up on our fourth day to rain and heavy winds, which only got stronger (up to 25 knots) as the day wore on. Sailing in that type of weather was pretty much a worst-case scenario for me, but I was very happy that it happened and that we could have the experience while under the guidance of a captain (now we’ll know exactly what to do someday if we are alone on our own boat). After six hours at sail, we were both wet down to our underclothes, but we both really enjoyed ourselves. Nick even said that it was his favorite day!
The sailing course really helped solidify our decision to become sailors and move forward with a boat purchase. So we’ll see where we go from here. Nick and I are very thoughtful in our decision making (some may call it indecisive 😉 ), and we don’t have a timeline in mind, but we are both very excited about this journey and perhaps someday soon having a relaxing, yet exciting, passion that we can pursue together!