Tell us about how you got into sailing, your experiences thus far, and future sailing goals.
I didn’t genuinely start sailing until my late 20s or early 30s. I had sailed on various boats a few times, but I didn’t know what I was doing. I’d be told to pull a line, so I’d try to pull at whatever line was being pointed at (sometimes I even managed to not yank at the wrong line). I wasn’t sailing; I was riding on a sailboat. It wasn’t until I joined DC Sail that I took lessons and truly learned how to sail. My lessons were on a Flying Scot, and I’ve since raced FJs, Lightnings, and J/boats. I crew on Gitana, a Cal 34, when I can sneak onboard unnoticed.
This past year I sailed Arcturus, a Pacific Seacraft Orion through the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, and down to the Dominican Republic. The trip lasted six months, starting from Charleston, SC, to Luperón, DR, and back to Tampa, FL. With the exception of the return leg, we more or less followed Bruce Van Sant’s book (“A Gentleman’s Guide to Passages South: The Thornless Path to Windward”), as so many people do. We were in no rush and just had a good time as we went. I actually happened to meet Van Sant in Luperón, which was a cool coda on the trip.
My future goals, in no particular order, include an ocean crossing, winning in a dinghy regatta, skippering a keelboat in a regatta (I’ve only crewed during races), and learning more about diesel engines. I’m always open to more goal suggestions.
If someone were interested in learning to sail, what would you tell them?
I would tell them that not only should they learn to sail, they should pick up any hobby that has been around for 5000 years, that takes a weekend to learn and a lifetime to master, and that you can do alone or with family and friends.
Did you have any preconceived notions about sailing that proved true or untrue?
I had no expectation of the journey it would be. During my first sail of the season each cold spring as I push into the water, I think about how much I’ve learned about sailing and beam confidence across the ripples into the wind. I inevitably return to shore thinking about how much I still have to learn.
Did you encounter any obstacles or barriers when you began sailing?
I believe an obstacle I encountered (and I assume many people encounter with sailing) was getting to the realization that if I am to have new and broader sailing experiences, I have to actively pursue them. It’s like that old movie quote: we all determine our own level of involvement. For me, that involved sitting down and writing out a few sailing goals and then sharing that list with a friend who added a few ideas of his own.
--by Beth Crabtree