The Art of Sailing

I’ve wanted to learn how to sail for quite a while. The thought of understanding how the ropes and sails work, however, has always been intimidating. It almost seems impossible how a sailboat even works. I repeatedly decided to put off learning how to sail.

A month ago my friend, Brett, called and told me his father-in-law purchased a 35 foot Beneteau sailboat and needed to transport it to Georgia from North Carolina. He asked me if I would be interested in getting a crew together and sailing it to Georgia, learning how to sail along the way. Immediately I said, “Yes, I am in”, not knowing what that even meant.

A five-man team was assembled consisting of myself, Brett, Steve (Brett’s father-in-law), Chris (a sailing instructor from Atlanta), and David (a friend of Chris’ and avid sailboat racer). We flew from Atlanta to Raleigh, drove to the dock where the boat was waiting, and began to prepare the boat for its four-day journey south. Brett and I sat on the dock that night, looking at the horizon and wondering what in the world tomorrow was going to be like. It felt like the night before the first day of high school and we were riddled with anticipation.

The first day on the water was spent learning what the various ropes were called and what they did, going over safety precautions, and learning how the sails worked in relation to the wind. About mid-day, the two veteran sailors said to us “OK, so let’s sail. Show us what you’ve learned”. The three of us, Brett, Steve, and I, look at each other like “Are they talking to us?”

We hoisted the main halyard, let out the jib, reeled in the sheets, and synchronized the sails together as best we could. Almost immediately, David was yelling for us to “hurry up.” “You’re losing the race, we are falling back.” This ultimately added two things to our process: complete excitement and immense pressure. But, we did it. We were sailing and the boat was silently cruising through the water.

The second day was spent in Oriental, North Carolina, where we learned how to rig the ropes to the sails. All of the working ropes on the boat needed replacing and, luckily, there was a marine store a block away from where we docked the night before. Throughout the day, we intimately learned how to install and use halyards, sheets, and furling lines. Learning this skill was equally as great as actually sailing.

The third day we headed to open water and sailed the entire day at sea and everyone was drowsy from the Dramamine we frantically tossed back that morning. Up and down, back and forth the boat rocked. All day long. It was great being at sea, but it was not as calm and relaxed as I assumed it would be. That afternoon, a rainstorm caught us and before we knew it we were getting blasted with rain and wind. We worked the sails, reefed the main, and eventually pulled everything together to head for land. We were exhausted.

On the fourth day, we made our way to North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. We spent the day in the Intracoastal Waterway in order to avoid rough sea and in climate weather. Losing a day in Oriental meant that we would not make it down to St. Simons, which we initially set out to reach. I don’t think any of us were disappointed, however, due to the incredible journey behind us.

I learned more about sailing in four days on the water than I had in the last month of reading and watching youtube videos in preparation. You may laugh, but I was so excited and anxious for this trip I watched everything and read all that I could. Almost none of it made any sense. There just isn’t anything like diving in head first and learning while doing.

Thank you, Chris and David, for your patience with us on this trip. You handled our ignorance with understanding and grace and taught us so much about the mysterious art or sailing. Also, to Steve, thank you for bringing me along on this trip. I had a great time getting to know you and spending four days talking, laughing, and enjoying your sailboat with you. Lastly, thanks, Brett, for thinking of me when planning this trip and for pulling it all together. It was all just so great.

SAILING LOG | French Connect Sailboat

Thursday, May 26

7:00 p.m arrived at dowry creek marina in Belhaven, NC and loaded boat for departure

Friday, May 27

11:50 a.m Departed dowry creek marina in Belhaven, NC

8:20p.m. Docked at Oriental, NC

Saturday, May 28

In slip in Oriental, NC changing rigging from 11:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.

Sunday, May 29

7:23 a.m departed Oriental, NC

11:30 p.m. Anchored Wrightsville Beach, NC

Monday, May 30

8:18 a.m departed Wrightsville Beach, NC

10:05 a.m stopped for gas in Carolina, NC

11:00 a.m departed Carolina, NC

6:05 p.m. Arrived at Myrtle Beach Yacht Club

Tuesday, May 31

12:45 p.m. Departed Myrtle Beach Yacht Club for Atlanta, GA by car.