I’m not usually nostalgic for a moment so quickly after it has passed, but I was almost immediately after we docked my new French-Canadian friend’s Pearson Ariel, after a rousing 20 knot first sail of the season. I knew he would be leaving soon to go back home for the week, and I’d be “alone” in the boatyard since I arrived six days ago.
I’d been admiring the boat since I got to the yard. Her beautiful lines and sturdy keel perched right behind mine. I’ve always wanted to sail a Pearson Ariel and have kept a keen eye for ones that come up for sale. Being aboard her, with a Quebecer as the captain nonetheless, I felt like I was in a scene from Jean Du Sud, the epic journey of Yves Gelinas around the world aboard an Alberg 30.
My friend’s boat, Vanupied, went to weather with a serious bone in her teeth as we heeled harder in the 25 knot gusts. I felt so safe as the boat and her captain, Oliver, took good care and we soared back to the marina at six knots. It’s a feeling I hope to have again when my own boat goes into the water.
Why do I love sailing? It’s not only the way it feels on the water, the challenges or satisfaction it brings–it’s the people. The community. Oliver gifted me a tin of tea that made an Atlantic Crossing with him a few months ago, vintage charts of Lake Champlain, a space heater that I have roaring right now. We drank coffees and wine and walked around the yard admiring the beautiful boats, sharing stories, playing music. Yes, there was lots of work in there, too. He introduced me to Marco who helped me finally complete the installation of my bow roller, and fabricate a stronger backing plate.
My crew member, and official first mate of this vessel, Gina, has proved deserving of the title as she picked me up from the bus station, loaded a dodgy wooden ladder (which she carried her 50 pound dog up every morning and night) on to the top of her car, then drove us to the boat and helped me every day cross some boat work off the ever growing list. She’s handier with tools than I am, makes me laugh until I can’t breathe, and I can tell she’ll be a better sailor than me one day. She returns in three short weeks and we take off sailing together around this magical lake.
With my friends now gone, reality has set in. I’m not ready. I have one big job down, but two more massive ones, and lots of little ones to go before I can launch. Both of those jobs require the help of someone more skilled and knowledgeable than I am. While it’s not been a problem so far, I’m still anxious about finding someone to help and getting everything completed.
After being a part of the launch of Oliver’s boat the jokes of “Oh, I’m not going sailing, I’m just going to live in the boatyard forever,” are starting to seem less funny. The boat’s surrounding me are all going into the water. Slowly but surely, one by one. The sailing season has begun. I better knock on wood. I want to come, too!