Monthly: October 2008

28 Oct

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Permission To Come Aboard?

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By Carl Haddick

Ahoy, there! Many thanks to Small Craft Advisor and Steve for the chance to post here. I’m about as stoked up as I get, and I get pretty hyper about some things, particularly sailing things.

In fact, I might be downright easy to please, sailing wise. I’ll take an uninspired cheeseburger and still leave a big tip, just as long as it’s dockside with sailing friends. Not a question, I’ll go for that any day of the week over a five star restaurant. My wife might disagree, but friendships made on the water are gold and they aren’t built on pretentiousness.

No way. Our sailboats protect us from that and can serve up humble pie therapy whenever needed. I truly respect anyone who really has positive command over his or her vessel, but that’s unfortunately not me. I always seem to be one inattentive moment away from youtube greatness and it’s very difficult to be pretentious when you’re dripping wet. If it took saviore faire to make friends with sailboats I’d have to find a new hobby.

But that’s not the way sailing works. There aren’t many of us that don’t need help from time to time, and from the old man of the sea (met several of ‘em, actually!) to the first time sailor we all have tricks to learn.

Tradition, and knowledge handed down, those things bring us closer in ways we sometimes never know. Sailors are a pretty social lot and are eager to share ideas, and as a community we tend to take pretty good care of our tips and tricks. By now, a millennia or threee into this sailing business, we’ve got the benefit of a lot of experience. That line that pulls up the sail, for example, is called a halyard because in the days of iron men, wooden boats, and square sails that line hauled up a yard.

The first sailing knot you learned to tie, the bowline, has been around awhile, too. John Smith, Pocahontas beau, recommended it in his book "The Seaman’s Grammar", published in the seventeenth century.

So we have a few centuries of lore to bind us together on top of the obvious common interest in sailboats. Throw in some horrors like what the weather can do, broaching, pitchpoling, and crash jibing and all of a sudden we’ve got some strong shared interests.

Which reminds me of a week on Corpus Christi Bay, a chance meeting, a Doc I never met and how he helped keep my gelcoat shiney. I defy Chapman’s generally at my peril, but there’s more than one way to dock a catboat.

I’ll get back to you on that one.

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