Friday, July 3, 2015

Summer Sailing

After a ‘brief’ hiatus, we’re back! There is a backlog of topics to cover but for now I will try stay current. 

Three years ago when we last had a Madison summer, Bryce & I joined Hoofers Sailing Club. Prior to that summer, my sailing experience had only really been a one-week charter in New Zealand to make sure I didn’t get debilitatingly seasick or hate sailing or boats. Thankfully neither of those were the case. 

So I went into that summer in Madison, with the goal to learn how to sail. I mean, we had (and still have!) this grand plan and sailing was, and still is, kinda an integral part of it. I learned the theory, earned the qualifications and gained some degree of confidence on a boat. 

But I lacked experience. I didn’t know what I could or couldn’t touch, afraid I would break anything or everything, afraid of capsizing or sinking, didn’t like the boat heeling… a whole range of things!

Yesterday, back in Madison for the summer, I had my first sailing lesson back at Hoofers and I knew things!  Two and a half years experience of living and sailing on a boat…. I’ve learned a thing or two! There were four of us and an instructor on a Badger Sloop. Small and simple but perfect for getting the basics down! 
Our boat in the foreground!
Even though Batty has a wheel, my muscle memory from learning to sail on boats with tillers came right back. I was able to maneuver around the boat holding onto stays, tack and jibe, put on the sails, and critically assess the boat while we were underway. To know when something is not right is what we constantly have to be on the look out for on Batty, as with on any boat!

But smaller boats are different beasts. Firstly, the lines are smaller and there are no winches. I NEED to get a pair of sailing gloves! Smaller boats strip everything back in a way that makes it simpler and easier to understand however thereby eliminating the ‘frills’ that make life easier on a larger keelboat (like winches).  Secondly, they tried to teach me this thing whereby you slip your ankles under some straps on the floor and then hang myself over the edge of the boat! I mean, I know this is just a lake, but it’s completely counterintuitive. I have spent my entire sailing life focussing on staying ON a boat… not hanging over the edge. Not comfortable with that at All! 
Gorgeous day on Lake Mendota!
Despite how far I have come, I still have a lot to learn. Instead of reacting calmly (or not reacting at all) when I feel the wind and boat picking up speed, I immediately felt my gut clench up. I still get anxious when maneuvering around other boats, docks, people. I balked at trying to dock yesterday. I’m not yet comfortable with how boat responds to what I want. While I am completely comfortable on Batty while we are underway, the second we are navigating in shallow waters, docking, maneuvering in a crowded anchorage or doing anything that could possibly result in the boat hitting something, tiny little pangs of panic creep in. I have complete faith in Bryce and his ability to not hit things, but that unfortunately does not make me any less uncomfortable. The more I do it, the more comfortable I will be with it all. 


  1. Great update!

  2. Good Job Alissa! Accidents happen when confidence leads to complacence. Stay vigilant :)

  3. I would really like to try sailing on one of those little boats one time. But, I'm like you and not sure about the idea of hanging over the side :-)

    1. I think they are great for practicing the basics and you don't need to hang over the side to do that! :)