Sailing and Life


The kiddos and I just recently returned from a great trip to Lake Norman, an annual tradition around the 4th of July with family-friends that have a house there.  Ella is one of my mother’s best friends and her and her husband Dennis are also the kids God-parents.  We have been going to visit them at least a few days each year for about 5 years.  We have such a good time getting away and spending time there.  When we’re there, we enjoy swimming, fishing, paddle boating, kayaking, and just relaxing by the water.  They have a great place with a nice size dock, a beach area and plenty of space for the “Circus” as they call the Wells kiddos.


The last couple of visits there, Christopher and I have enjoyed “learning” to sail.  The girls enjoy it some, but they typically just want us to get them back to shore fairly quickly.  As you can see in the picture below (a little grainy), Julia just wanted to pretend she was “Maona” on the bow.  Plus, it’s a small sail boat and four of us on it is probably a little much.


I grew up going to the lake during the summers to enjoy our time on a regular motor boat, where we could ski, knee-board, tube, or just ride around the lake enjoying the wind in our face.  I had never attempted to manually sail a sailboat.  It’s ironic, but I watched “Moana” last night for the first time with the kids.  There’s a scene where Moana “makes” Maui teach her to sail and it reminded me of Dennis coaching Christopher and me on “how to catch the wind” and how to “tack” and “jib.”


Christopher and I really have fun getting the boat out on the water, but it is not easy to sail, even on the smallest of beginner boats.  We had to learn when to pull the line tight so that the boom (a large aluminum pipe holding the bottom of the sail) would allow the sail to capture the most “air.”  It was important for us to understand the “feel” of when to tack (to zig zag) in order to maintain speed, while at the same time steer the rudder so that we got close to where we wanted to go.  Many times we would get going fast enough to make a small wake and the slightest turn would cause the sail to go flat and we’d stop and just float until we could figure out how to harness even the slightest breeze to get us moving again.  Occasionally, we would catch a large gust of wind and the thrill of the speed and the excitement of having to lean back out over the water to keep the weight balanced was so exhilarating, yet sometimes a little scary.  The boat never turned over, but came close a time or two.

We enjoyed those exhilarating moments immensely, however, a good steady wind was what we preferred.  With a consistent breeze we could pick up good speed, yet also have the opportunity to improve our sailing capabilities without having to worry about flipping the boat.  I do have to admit the air would “go still,” and the emergency oar did have to be used a couple of times to get us back to the dock.


Sometimes life can be like sailing.  There are times when you haven’t experienced certain situations that you have to use your “gut,” or “feel” to overcome adversity or figure out a dilemma.  In life, we also have to be determined and patient in waiting for, finding, and going after that breeze or what we’re searching for or what is needed to get us moving again.  When things aren’t going so well, or get hard, we may have to find our oar and start rowing to make things happen.  Finally, many decisions or actions take us to those “oh shit, we’re about to tip” moments.  By digging deep, hanging on tight and fully committing ourselves to find that proper balance, we typically come out unscathed and onto steady and calm waters.  In life, we can’t be afraid to tip, but we have to be ready to bail the water when we do.

Happy sailing!  Have a great week!