Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Boat Quest, Part 1

This series picks up where "Introduction" left off as my very first post to this blog, way back in March, 2005.

After my family purchased an AMF Alcort Minifish in June of 1969, when I was eleven years old, my interest in sailing never diminished. We would put the boat on top of the station wagon every summer for our vacations to Waupaca or our trips to visit Grandma in Iowa. I kept Royce's Sailing Illustrated next to my bed and studied it nightly until I knew all the concepts and vocabulary, and could tie every knot. My friend Mark Wiars and I even played a sailing board game, Regatta, at his home after school. Mark always won because he saved his Puff cards for the finish.

At that time, we were mostly interested in small sailboats because that was our experience: my family's Minifish, the boats we sailed at Boy Scout camp, the boats we saw sailing on Wisconsin's lakes. Mark and I dreamed of sailing racing boats on Lake Michigan. He was a fan of the Star, while I favored the Lightning. Royce's contained excellent illustrations of both boats, so we would argue their relative merits like other kids argued over which professional athlete was better. Looking at my almost-forty-year-old copy of Royce's just now, I think Mark had the edge since the Star featured a lead keel while the Lightning used a wooden centerboard. On choppy Lake Michigan, the Star would be the safer and faster boat. I think this was the beginning of a long tendency on my part to overestimate a particular boat's seaworthiness.

There were many other boats illustrated in Royce's, including coastal cruisers and passage makers, but as kids we didn't pay much attention to those since they seemed so out of reach. The closest we came to thinking about that type of boat was Dove, the 24-foot sloop that young Robin Graham sailed around the world in the 1960s. As I said in my Introduction, reading a National Geographic article about Robin's circumnavigation was the beginning of my own dream to sail around the world.

No comments: