Thursday, July 17, 2014


Early this year Sue and I were having a beer with a good friend, Pierce, when talked turned to the passing of the years and grabbing opportunities when they came by.  He said that a friend was going to charter a boat in the Caribbean and take his family and another family on a sailing adventure.  Pierce said that he would love to do something like that with his teen-aged son Miles.  Sue and I immediately said "You should!  That would be awesome!  We'd go with you!"

And from that "Wow-wouldn't-it-be-cool" moment, a new reality was born.

Pierce took the lead in finding a boat and we eventually settled on a 44' Voyage catamarran. We'd sail for 10 days in the British Virgin Islands starting in Roadtown on Tortola.

It is joked that the only requirements to a bareboat charter in the BVI are a funny hat and a credit card (and many charter companies will waive the funny hat) but the reality is that you must submit a sailing resume for the skipper and crew. Pierce has a sailing background from his days living in Chicago and Florida, Sue has taken a sailing lesson or two. My sailing qualifications consist of 2-3 days as sentient ballast and an encyclopedic knowledge of Jimmy Buffett lyrics. We decided to boost our sea cred by taking a four-day, sleep-aboard, sailing class which would, hopefully, culminate in our receiving our ASA 101 (Basic Keelboat), 103 (Coastal Cruising), and 104 (Bareboat Cruising) certifications.

We received the classroom materials about a month ahead of time and studying began in earnest.  Parts of the boat, standing rigging, running rigging, and points of sail were just the beginning. We quizzed each other constantly.  "What does the boom vang do?" "What's the difference between tacking and jibing?" We carried lengths of rope around and tied bowlines and figure eight knots.  We studied charts and looked at a dizzying array of symbols. 

Part of the challenge, for me, was the unknown aspect of it all.  What did they expect our background to be?  Did they think we had been sailing for years and were now just getting our obviously deserved certification?  I was fairly certain that we were expected to already know the material; and while I felt I had learned it I wasn't sure that I knew it.  If someone yelled "QUICK!  SNUB THE STARBOARD JIBSHEET AND THEN LOOSEN THE CUNNINGHAM OR WE'RE DOOMED!"  We'd be doomed.

Next... Sailing Class.  Will they pass?  Will Chris snub the jibsheet? 

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