by Tim Sweet
This summer my wife, Cindi, enrolled us in adult sailing lessons through the Sturgeon Bay Yacht Club’s (SBYC) Sail Training Foundation. The three-hour lessons have taken place for eight weeks on Tuesday evenings in the protected waters between the Oregon Street and Bay View bridges.
Our chief instructor, 18-year-old Frankie Pudlo, has been a wonderfully patient teacher, guiding us all along the way. There are 12 adult students in the class, and we were surprised to find that about half of those people are 60 or older.
Some classroom instruction – sailing terminology, the physics behind the sport, how to rig and de-rig a boat, how to read the wind clock, and basic knot-tying skills – has been provided in a large tent pitched in the SBYC parking lot, but most of the time has been spent on the water learning how to sail a 19-foot Flying Scot by being the skipper or crew of the boat.
The last time I sailed was 43 years ago with two of my high school friends. One had an X-boat, and the other owned a Lightning. Both of them had taken lessons as kids through the Neenah Nodaway Yacht Club. I enjoyed those outings on Lake Winnebago, but I’d never really had the opportunity or hankering to sail since then.
In 2017, Cindi registered one of our grandsons for sailing lessons at the SBYC. She had never sailed before and thought the sport looked like such fun that she wanted to try it, too. Now she’s hooked.
During most of our sessions, the wind died down to a gentle breeze or even less. But on June 25, the wind remained strong all through the evening. I recorded the following entry in my journal: “The wind and the clouds were wonderful tonight. We were able to really get moving. The feeling I get from sailing is a combination of exhilaration and joyfulness. I smiled most of the time we were out there, except for when I was screaming every time the boat heeled on its edge.”
Recently we purchased a refurbished 1974 Flying Scot. We appreciate the new skills we’ve learned. Going to sailing school has been the highlight of our summer, and we hope to have many more exhilarating adventures ahead of us during the coming years.
To learn more about the local Sail Training Foundation, visit sailtrainingfoundation.com.