Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Gettin' Em Hooked - A Day On Shelter Island

Where did it all start for you?

For me, most of the details are still clear, despite the fact that I was eight. For one thing, I remember being pretty soaked and miserable. Nevertheless, here I stand today, hopelessly and happily preoccupied with this sport.

A Shelter Island junior sailor, trying something new. (6/27/11)

My sailing adventure began in the rain, among the Optimist dinghy racks that populate a large slice of the boatyard at Shelter Island Yacht Club. A few feet away from my Dad and I, a polite and focused island teenager named Amanda Clark was carefully unpacking the myriad parts of what was probably her most prized possession. Even though I understood nothing about the boat, or what was going on, I could tell there was a certain solemness to what was happening. She had just aged out of her Opti, a class she had raced all over the world, (she certainly had the blade-bag patches to prove it) and it was time to move on to bigger and better things. I was to be the next caretaker of sail no. 5892.

A junior sailing program grad, still obsessed after all these years...

That day, I was at square one. Luckily, thanks to the terrific program I was enrolled in, the sailing puzzle began to steadily make more sense. In time, inspired in part by older kids like Amanda, I become part of a long tradition of devoted island sailors.

Fourteen years later, I can't even begin to calculate what I owe to the people who taught me how to sail.  Being on the water as much as possible has become a central part of my identity.

How did the people at SIYC enact this change within me and in so many others? By teaching us that you can find happiness on a sailboat in many, many ways. And that not all of them involve starting sequences or finish lines.

The cold and dreary day we picked up my first boat may not have been the most idyllic of beginnings, but after that moment, I was a sailor. And I've never looked back.


Photography by Sebastian Slayter

1 comment:

  1. If I live on the west coast, can I enroll my kids at SIYC's program?