Monday, March 14, 2005


Hello, my name is John and this is the first post to my new Web log, Whispering Jesse. This blog will be an account of my dream to sail around the world. There is much more to life than the pursuit of a dream, but this blog will focus only on those aspects of life that contribute to the fulfillment of my dream. Here we go...

I grew up sailing in Wisconsin. My family would vacation in the Chain of Lakes area near Waupaca every summer with the same families. One of the families owned a Butterfly sailboat they named "Blenny". The father, Mr. Durant, would take the kids out on Round Lake one at a time to introduce them to sailing. I was ten years old in 1968 when I went sailing for the first time. I was excited by the speed and the spray, and I was impressed by the command Mr. Durant seemed to have over the wind through the control of his boat. I wanted to learn how to sail just like him. He was a good teacher and introduced me to all the basics: different reaches, coming about, maintaining a heading, reading the wind by watching the water, and the other skills necessary to sail safely and confidently.

I was so into sailing by the end of the vacation, as was my dad from his own experiences with Mr. Durant, that we convinced the family to get a small sailboat of our own the following summer. We bought a newly introduced AMF Alcort model, the Minifish, in June of 1969. It was a scaled-down version of a Sunfish, with an 11-foot, 9-inch hull that weighed 75 pounds. It had a weight limit of 300 pounds, which was perfect for Dad and two of the kids. Despite the small hull, the sail area was pretty close to Sunfish size, so our Minifish, which my mom christened "Chelsea Morning" after the Joni Mitchell song, was a quick little boat. She featured a hiking stick on the tiller and a nylon hiking strap across the small cockpit, standard equipment on a racing boat, so I came to think of her as a one-man racing Sunfish.

We sailed Chelsea Morning frequently over the next several summers and well into my adult years. I still have her. She is leaning against a protected wall outside our house in Aspen, Colorado. During our short summers, my wife Nan and I sometimes take her up to Ruedi Reservoir, about an hour away, to launch her from Freeman Mesa. The reservoir is small and narrow, and the winds tend to swirl wildly around the surrounding mountains, but it's always fun to get reacquainted with the childhood thrill of sailing this small boat, the thrill that has sustained my lifelong interest in sailing.

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