- Jul 28, 2014
- Jul 24, 2014
- Jul 14, 2014
Back in the day I owned a salty gaff-rigged ketch named Autant. Traditional to a fault, she had no electricity, plumbing, winches, roller-furling or any other modern conveniences. Nor did she have an engine, though there were plenty of times when I wished it were otherwise. Like it or not, those years I spent cruising without an engine were emphatically educational.
Gazing upon Cayuga Lake on a calm August day, I am struck now three decades later by my vivid memories of what must be every sailing instructor’s worst nightmare. It was supposed to have been a picnic, a final exam for the summer sailing program at the local yacht club. Instead, in less than 20 minutes, it turned into a terrifying, life-threatening maelstrom of wind and water.
Eventually everyone wraps a line around a prop. I was told this on my first-ever job as a captain—leading teenagers on liveaboard dive-training trips in the Leeward Islands—and bragged about being the only skipper not to have done so.
It all started midway through a cruise on Mexico’s Sea of Cortez when we were having dinner aboard Born Free and Chris of Starship announced: “Anne-Marie [his wife] and I have been talking and she agrees, we should do a partner swap.” An uncomfortable silence followed as I failed to respond.