A 30th Birthday Present Leads to a Sailing Passion

Start Sailing Now: How a Passion for Sailing Gets Sparked

Carly and Michael Authement share their story of how their sailing passion was born in this Q&A with SpinSheet’s Beth Crabtree:

Tell us about how you got into sailing

Michael: Carly and I always admired the sailing culture and natural beauty of the Chesapeake and hoped that one day we would try sailing. Last year, we decided to do something special from Carly’s ‘bucket list’ for her 30th birthday. We researched popular sailing destinations and sailing schools within driving distance of our home in Bethesda, MD. We had visited Solomons Island a few times before and really enjoyed the slower pace, friendly atmosphere, and amazing restaurant scene, so we booked a room at the Back Creek Inn and registered for the “Learn to Sail” course at Sail Solomons. From our first lesson on day one, we were both hooked!

At Sail Solomons Carly and Michael completed American Sailing Association (ASA) courses 101 through 104 in 2019. Although they laid low this year due to the pandemic, the couple is excited to take ASA 105 Coastal Navigation and the ASA Docking courses soon. By joining the Sail Solomons Osprey Club, they have had the opportunity to sail a variety of boats in the 22- to 34-foot range and compete in the 2019 Screwpile and Governor's Cup races.

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

Carly: Michael and I both come from humble beginnings, so we always imagined that sailing would never be something financially do-able. While sailing can get expensive pretty quickly, we were pleasantly surprised that there are affordable options out there. We were also nervous that the sailing culture would be exclusive and hard for newcomers to break into, but we’ve learned that is absolutely not the case. If anything, the people we have met in this community have been so kind, supportive, and happy to talk shop with a newbie.

What are your future sailing plans?

Carly: We both really enjoy sailing on the Patuxent River and the Chesapeake and have stayed pretty local so far (our farthest sail has been to Oxford, MD). If we went nowhere else, I would be happy as a clam, but we will continue making our way around the Chesapeake and checking out all of the beautiful Eastern Shore communities. Sail Solomons does a Caribbean flotilla every year, and while the pandemic threw a monkey wrench into our plans in 2020, we will try to join that in the next year or so. Right now, we’re window shopping and saving up for our own boat. It has been really fun to research the different types of boats and dream of owning one.

Did you encounter any obstacles or barriers when you began sailing?

Michael: Cost and time were the only barriers for us. We were chomping at the bit to get out on the water as much as possible when we first started, but we had those pesky full-time jobs holding us back! Joining the Osprey Club at Sail Solomons was helpful because we ate the cost up front, and then it felt like we were taking the boats out for free.

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

Carly: Just do it! Taking a class was the right way to go; it made us feel so much safer than learning from a friend or trying it on our own. Also, do your research. Reading books (and SpinSheet), watching YouTube videos (such as Sailing La Vagabonde), reading blogs (such as 59north.com/hold-fast), and subscribing to Attainable Adventure Cruising really helped us develop a passion for all things sailing.

Michael: Carly and I really treasure the relationships we’ve developed throughout this journey and all of the awesome experiences we’ve had since that fateful 30th birthday weekend. If we can be a source of information and support for other young couples looking to embark on a sailing career, we would be happy to connect!

~By Beth Crabtree

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