Messing About In Boats

January 2022 Feature Tim McKenna

“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” – Kenneth Grahame, “The Wind in the Willows”

That has always been one of my favorite quotes…and in these interesting times it is one that gives a positive outlook to all that is happening around us. As I put this brief missive together I’m fully aware it will be a very different summer of sailing, for sure.

Hopefully, by the time you are reading this, life on the Great Lakes will have returned to some form of normal. Put-in-Bay and Kelleys Island here in the Western Basin of Lake Erie are slowly reopening as we head into June. Mackinac Island is preparing to open as well. Other areas will be opening as they can, subject to state and local requirements. Check with your marina and local officials to see what is appropriate in your area.

It has been interesting this spring at the local West Marine store. During the last half of March through mid-May there was curbside service only. The overall cooperation of the people who needed marine supplies was a good story to watch.

This may be the summer that we learn to sail more often with just family. There will probably be less planned activities this season for the kids. Many are recommending that you sail and boat only with those with whom you live, so social distancing may mean that your crew this season is family. This can be a wonderful opportunity to spend time together, share different crew and skipper positions as you sail. Who knows, it might just be enjoyable!

Race Season

It appears that the racing season will be different as well. Race organizers for all the different sail races and regattas are exploring options also. Several major regattas and races have been postponed and will, hopefully, still take place. The social distance issues surrounding the pre- and post-race get togethers will certainly be affected. I have seen some consideration by a few groups to having virtual start/finish lines and race marks.

Then again, from a sailing perspective there is a line that goes something like this: One sailboat out on the water is just sailing; two sailboats out on the water are “racing.” So just get out there and race that other boat. Make plans for an informal “pick-up” race with others in your marina…there are a lot of ways to go out on the water and have some fun.

Day Trip’n

I wonder if day sails will become more frequent than some longer destination sailing. This would certainly impact how boats and amenities are used. Or, if you opt to take a longer cruise, proper provisioning may be something that requires additional planning as some places you might have sailed to in the past may not have the full services you were accustomed to. It might be a good time to see what sort of creations can come out of the galley or off the grill.

Dust off that anchor and find some of those nice secluded spots that you have sailed to in the past or search out some new ones and spend the afternoon or the night.  Enjoy the quiet, the sunset and the stars. This is a real opportunity to enjoy the solitude which I find to be one of the best things about sailing.

Yes, this is going to be different sailing season for all of us. We will learn to adapt to the changes that will come before us. This will be a summer of using our sailing time for both recreation and using the solitude for some time of reflection.  Remember what we have; take care and be safe. Go out and mess around on some boats

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