Perhaps had it not been for the ancient Phoenicians, New England’s legendary schooner fleet, or heroic America’s Cup skippers, sailing — as in the simple skills needed to propel a boat by wind alone — would not be imbued with such mysticism.
Pictured: Trainees out on the water at the helm, working the sails at the Duxbury Bay Marine School in Duxbury. Next
Kids understand that learning new skills is the natural order of things at their age. But take an average middle-ager who has spent a lifetime dreamily watching white triangles of sail far offshore from the beach, and learning to sail becomes one of those special lifetime achievements.
“With adults,” says Chuck Leonard, executive director of the Duxbury Bay Maritime School, “sailing is one of those things that they’ve always wanted to get around to learning. Always been on their bucket list.”
Pictured: Theo Grossman, Amanda Doyle, Daron Connolly, and Nadia Doyle try to tame a windblown sail after day one of class at the Lincoln Maritime Center. Next
Beginning instruction for adults is done on one of seven boats in the Duxbury Bay Maritime School program’s fleet — broad Marshall catboats, descended from the boats New England fishermen once used — that are both safe and easy to sail. Learning parts of the boat is perhaps the most accessible phase, since the controlling lines (ropes), sail, tiller, and centerboard are simple and straightforward on a Marshall cat. Rigging the boat — hauling up the sails and putting the centerboard down — is also easier.
Pictured: Kathy McCarty makes up a jib sheet on a Flying Scot. Next
Sailing is so much about feel, this is not the time to talk, but to let the hands and eyes work the boat. If the student makes some radical error, which is unlikely, the instructor is always close enough to correct it. This brings up the next phase to learn, and that is the relationship between the wind and the sail.
Pictured: Instructor Julie Manning shows Maya Benjamin how to store an Opti sail after day one of youth sailing classes. Next
“You learn to respond to the natural forces that move the boat and your spirit at the same time,” said Tom Gosselin, a 65-year-old Duxbury resident. He has had two lessons thus far and is working to become certifield to solo. The program allows sailors, once they demonstrate basic skills, to use available boats for up to two-hour sails in Duxbury Bay. The entire season-long program costs $525.
Pictured: Grossman and Doyle carrying sail off the boat after day one of classes. Next
At the Lincoln Maritime Center in Hingham, which also teaches youth and adult sailing, some 250 to 300 sailors and rowers get out on the water each day, according to director Ellen Dresser. The Lincoln Center offers a variety of programs starting at age 7, right up to adult sailing. “We teach sailing to people 7 to 87 is what we say around here,” said Dresser.
Pictured: Michelle Noonan at the helm of a Flying Scot with Joe Noonan,12. Next
Though the Plymouth sailing school partners with the yacht club there, sailing instruction and boats are used by nonmembers, according to program director Abby Arenstam.
“There are many reasons why adults want to sail,” said Dresser. “Some people want to sail as a family, so the parents take lessons. Sometimes people have sailed on big boats and want to get back to the feel of small-boat sailing.”
Pictured: Aidan DiPrima with DBMS coach Noonan at the helm of a Flying Scot. Back to the beginning
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