Take a Sailing Lesson on Barnegat Bay
Before taking this sailing lesson, I’d only sailed one time in my life, about 25 years ago, on a windy day on Ithaca Lake. What I remember most about that experience is ducking the boom, which kept swinging back and forth, threatening to give one of our group a nasty knock in the head. We had trouble controlling the boat.
So, it was with some trepidation that I entered into this Living Social-inspired adventure, with my two friends, Anne and Diane. And that trepidation grew as soon as we stepped onto the boat and our Barnegat Bay Sailing School instructor, Mike, began a lesson on sailing that included lots of technical-sounding words and commands I’d never heard before. Like “Hard to lee,” and “jib sheet” and “tacking (which had nothing to do with tacks of any sort). Anne and I looked at each other nervously, and wondered aloud what we’d gotten ourselves into. Mike pulled out a laminated sheet and explained how a wind indicator worked and how various manuevers would angle your boat towards or away from the wind. All this within the first 15 minutes. Huh? I felt like I was back in geometry class learning Pythagorean Theorem. I nodded, but I really didn’t get it.
“This will all make more sense once you get out into the bay,” Mike said, because at that point, we hadn’t left the marina slip yet.
Anne was sitting closest to the tiller, so she got to steer first, directing the boat through a narrowish channel marked by red and green bouys. She looked tense. I was glad it wasn’t me. But she got us through with no problem, and after a while, when she asked if anyone else wanted to steer, I said I’d give it a shot. I didn’t hit anything either, although it took a bit for me to remember that you had to pull in the opposite direction of where you wanted to turn. So, I was sailing? No, not yet. We still had the motor on to get us out on the bay.
When we were out far enough, Mike gave us instructions on how to unroll the sails. I had no idea what he said. Steering took every ounce of concentration from me. Later I regretted this a bit. But, hey, I didn’t hit anything (well, we weren’t really that close to anything to tell you the truth.)
Mike complained that there wasn’t enough wind, but the three of us were okay with that. He taught us how to change direction various times, and we each took turns at different posts–the jib, the main sail and the tiller.
As it turned out, it was a lot of fun. And in the end, the fact that it was a little bit technical made it more enjoyable. So we weren’t just sitting in a boat on a beautiful day in picture-perfect bay on the Jersey Shore. We were sailors. It really was the kind of experience that leaves you longing for more.
When we finished we ate lunch at a waterfront restaurant called The Cove. Then, we headed home, taking the three-hour ride back in Diane’s convertible with the top down. The perfect ending to the perfect day!