Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Spirit of Yachting

A favorite BBC show of mine is the half-hour Rolex Spirit of Yachting.  I cut my teeth as a freshwater weekend "prairie" sailor on the St. Mary's Reservoir and Flathead and Waterton Lakes, and most of my salt water sailing over the years has admittedly been restricted to Hobie Cats for an afternoon here or there.  (One notable and enjoyable exception was aboard the "Catatonic" off Pearl Harbor in 1978.)  My biggest open ocean thrill came when I was just out of high school and visiting a friend in Greenwich, Connecticut.  My hosts belonged to a small yacht club and - as I had crumpled my mother's borrowed Volkswagen in a flash rainstorm the day after we arrived, thus marooning my buddy and I there for a month - we spent a fair amount of time rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous at "the club".  One day the opportunity to crew on a classic wooden multi-masted schooner arose, and as my buddy was off to see a Yankees game in NYC, I jumped at the opportunity.  We tacked out into the Atlantic and then went for a long sail, eventually on an even keel we held for hours.  There's not much work to do once you're aimed in the right direction on a behemoth like that but the thrill was unimaginable for me as an 18-year old.  And that open ocean thrill is rekindled every time I watch the Spirit of Yachting.