I went sailing today, and it was amazing. My friend takes sailing lessons, and I was out for lunch with her when she suggested I join her in her lesson. I thought at first I wouldn't be able to, figuring I'd need a parental unit to sign a safety waiver, and seeing how my mom was at work, that wouldn't work. However, the instructor was a little lax about that, so I was able to get on a boat in the lesson. I'm not really at risk for an accident, anyway; I'm a strong swimmer, and did take scuba training for open water certification... although I'm not certified. But whatever. I was feeling a little apprehensive at first, because I thought I'd get frustrated or confused on what I was supposed to do, and both my friend and the instructor kept overloading me with information to remember. Once I got on the water, however, it was easy. Just hold onto the tiller, keep the boomsheet rope semi-taut, and catch the wind. I learned what 'tack' and 'jibe' meant, tack being when you sail into the eye of the wind with the bow and jibe when you sail into the wind with the stern. At least, I think that's correct... some of the information I'm not sure I remember correctly. What was more interesting was that at the end of the lesson, after we put the boats (we were sailing little seven-foot lasers by ourselves-really cool, except you have to duck if the boom comes swinging around on a jibe and there isn't a lot of head room) away, the teacher taught us about the physics of how the wind affects the sail and how fast you go. She had prompted the class with a question about why you don't go as fast if all the wind just blows straight into the sail, and you don't let the wind blow streamlined through the sail. No one had an answer, so she explained it. It works in the same way an airplane wing does; above the wing, the wind blows across and creates pressure, also creating lift. The wind underneath the wing creates high pressure, and also pull. You need both for the plane to stay up, and move forward in the easiest and fastest way. So, when the wind blows over the rounded part of the sail, it creates lift, and when it passes through the other side, it creates pull, and makes everything streamlined.
I think that stuff is pretty interesting, but the best part was being out there on the lake in that boat... talk about freedom! We used to have a 27' Catalina when I was five, but I used to get scared, because sometimes it would be really choppy, and I'd freak out that the boat would flip over... I didn't know a whole lot back then. We ended up having to sell it, because my Mom and Dad were the only ones who really enjoyed it. Plus, my sister used to get really seasick... puking over the side the whole time. Not fun. But once my dad finishes school, we can get a boat again, and I'll go sailing with him. That I would enjoy.
Learning to sail was pretty much the highlight of my day... I'll have to go back and see how much it costs to take lessons. Being out on the water made me think of my friend Kim, who lives in Las Vegas and has a sailboat on Lake Tahoe. Maybe I should go down there and go sailing with her.
I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving: To reach the port of heaven, we must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it, but we must sail, and not drift, nor lie at anchor. -Oliver Wendell Holmes