Start Sailing Now: Meet Santhosh George


Tell us about how you got into sailing.

In my early 20s I was in the Indian Navy, and for a couple of years had the opportunity to experience sailing at the Naval Sailing Club. The first time I sailed was with a friend who had only sailed a couple of times. My friend volunteered to take me out and teach me in a dinghy. In all the excitement we set off without the removable wooden keel. At the time, I had no clue what that meant, but my friend assured me we would only have a problem if we tried to turn around. So we kept our course, counting on the safety boat to realize we were in trouble and come rescue us. After a really long time the safety boat finally came close, so we decided to try a tack and see what would happen. Well, we couldn’t beat physics. The boat capsized, and we both were in the water. We got on top of the capsized boat and waited for rescue. That was my first sail. It’s quite hilarious thinking of it now, but was really scary back then. After the early 90s, I didn’t have an opportunity to sail again until 2014. On the Internet I stumbled upon Baltimore’s Downtown Sailing Center (DSC), right in time for their Open House. I attended the event, joined the DSC, and from then on I have sailed most of the weeks in the season in the last two years.

Did you have any preconceived notions about sailing that proved true or untrue?

Well, the first notion I had was that the boat could capsize. Although this was true, it was because of something stupid that we did. The good thing is, I learned that the worst thing that could happen wasn’t that bad. Now that I mostly sail J/22s, Sonars, or fixed-keel cruising boats, capsizing is not something I worry about. Another notion I had was that you need to be a great swimmer to sail. I learned that a lifejacket will keep you afloat, so your level of swimming competency does not matter. As long as you wear a PFD, you should be good.

What has been your sailing experience thus far and what are your future plans?

I have sailed in India and now at the DSC in Baltimore. The last two years at the DSC I have sailed J/22s and Sonars. The first year in Baltimore I was a crew on these boats. The second year I got my U.S. Sailing certification as a Basic Keelboat skipper. This coming year, my aim is to get my skipper certification on the cruisers. My future is wherever the wind and water will take me, but I dream of being on boats for a long time.

If someone was interested in learning to sail, what would you tell them?

Don’t regret not trying. Experience the peace of being on the water and having the wind on your face. It’s priceless. Sailing is safe, and not knowing how to swim should not keep you away from sailing.

Do you own a boat?

I don’t own a sailboat, but last fall my daughter and I built a wooden boat, Roni. It’s a flat bottom skiff that we plan to convert to a sailing boat a few years down the road. It was a great experience for both of us building a boat together. Though it took two months for us to complete, when Roni floated without a leak, it was all smiles. No. It’s been a lot of fun. I have found that sailors are very friendly and helpful especially at the DSC. It’s been a great experience.