While I had never driven a team of galloping horses, keeping control of a 38-foot ketch in a steady wind with a spinnaker, jib, main, mizzen and kite flying aloft must have come close.
The tasks were to keep the spinnaker full of air, an eye on the other sails and the forward lookouts. The spinnaker would tend to veer to one side or the other of the bow and spill some of its air. If all the air was lost, the spinnaker would collapse and have to be reset, a time consuming task.
What wonderful memories of pleasurable times and adventures. There were five of us who chartered the ketch for a week out of Georgetown, Md., several miles up the Sassafras River. We motored to the Chesapeake Bay and sailed south.
There is a world of knowledge associated with sailing well. It is not all that difficult to get by, especially if there is lots of water, good weather, a sandy bottom and soft coastline. The Maine coast is a different story. Competitive sailing in any water is something else, lots of skill required there.
One has to know the equipment, including the electronic components, and know that it is in good working order. Challenging issues are being able to read the wind direction, cloud movement and water currents. When the air is light, only an expert knows where it may be coming from. For cruising, the skipper has to know where he is going. Current charts are a must. They tell about channel markers, depth of the water, compass readings and landmarks along the shore that can be helpful. The more familiar the crew is with the equipment names the better.
Too many passengers can be dangerous to all aboard, as recently reported in Virginia. It is the skipper's job to orient his or her crew. They need to know safety requirements and rules of the road, down to the difference between a line and a sheet. There are no ropes on a sailboat. When the command "Prepare to come about" is heard, the crew needs to pay special attention because the boom may sweep across the cockpit. No one wants to be hit by that!
While sailing again in Maryland waters, in a moment of nautical challenge, a "green" crewmember, wanting desperately to be helpful, cried out with all sincerity, "Hoist the lazarette!" The lazerette is a locker to store odds and ends. It is an integral part of the stern of the hull. It can't be raised independently of the hull. A new word was learned that day.
A year before sailing the two masted vessel, two couples of us charted a smaller boat from Severna Park, closer to Annapolis. It is common practice to examine the boat thoroughly Friday afternoon before setting sail for a week. It is a time to take note with the owner's input of any defects with the equipment.
The point of interest here came when we dropped sail to motor after leaving Eastern Bay and entered the mouth of the Wye River; we noticed a small tear at the top of the mainsail. We noticed a chip in the metal shade of the starboard spreader light. The chip was not observed when looking for defects at the time we took possession of the boat.
Glenn, who had been a gymnast at OSU, offered to sew up the tear. We had to get him two-thirds of the way up the mast. We found a notched board in the lazerette for a seat, which we attached to a halyard. I pulled him up and he got the broken shade taped.
When we returned the boat to the owner, we told him about our unpleasant experience. He allowed the spreader light cover might have been damaged before we took possession of the boat. He returned, to our relief, the full deposit against possible damages we might have caused.
Sailing is fun. There are, however, occasions when experience, caution, resourcefulness and problem solving are called for beyond electronic data. The fun outweighs the challenges by far, especially when the crew stays focused on what they may be requested to do.