I grew up on the family farm/ranch near the Black Hills of South Dakota–not a place with a rich-and-storied sailing heritage. I did take to water early on; I learned to swim by watching frogs in stock dams and irrigation ditches. The frog kick is still a mainstay in my swimming repertoire.
My first sailing experiences came during my college years and ended ignominiously when I singlehanded a Sunfish on a shallow, glacial till lake in eastern South Dakota. The tiny boat turtled and the top of the mast got stuck in the muck at the bottom. It took some effort to unstick it. While I was attracted to the idea of hitching a ride on the wind over water, some 20 years would pass before I hoisted another sail.
Sailing the lucid blue-green waters around the Virgin Islands with Julie and some friends resuscitated the allure of sailing. Not only were we enchanted by the wind in the sails and rigging, we loved the idea of seeing parts of the world from the deck of a boat. We subsequently took lessons in the BVI and a Miami-to-the-Bahamas excursion. Then we chartered numerous times in the Caribbean and sailed Lake Superior as well as such far-flung locales as San Francisco Bay and the Ionian Sea. Charting courses known to Odysseus is pretty heady stuff for a country boy partial to history and literature.
After buying and sailing a couple of trailerable boats, we set eyes on a Gozzard yacht at the Annapolis sailboat show in 2004 and fell hard and fast. We had sailed a lot of different boats and essentially kissed a few frogs before we found our dreamboat.
While I’m thankful for the frogs that taught me to swim and to sail, I basically frog leaped from the back of a horse onto the deck of a sailboat. Sailing has changed my attitudes, my latitudes and my life.
My personal motto used to be: “Don’t squat with your spurs on.”
That’s been replaced with: “It ain’t the way the wind blows, it’s how you set your sails.”