by L. Alan Keene
According to Coast Guard statistics, the vast majority of drownings happen from boats less than 26 feet long, with solo boaters especially at risk. Isn’t it time for the United States to make lifejacket use mandatory aboard boats of this size or when boating solo? 
”Uh-oh,” I heard myself say. “We’ve got a problem!”  Running aground was the last thing on my mind that gorgeous July afternoon as I guided Tackful, our “new to us” Catalina Capri 25, into the harbor.
It’s been said that “old sailors never die, they just get a little dinghy.” 
It was a beautiful afternoon for sailing out on the Chesapeake, and our non-sailing friends seemed delighted to be taking an active part.
It's no secret that the popularity of recreational sailing in America is ebbing and, sadly, has been for decades.  According to the US Coast Guard, since 1999 sailboat registrations have dropped by more than 25% , a trend that began back in the early '80s, and now barely 2% of all registered boats are powered by the wind.
“Would you like to sail one?” asked Dale Denning one Saturday back in 1980, as Peg and I stood admiring some gorgeous little sailing dinghies sitting by the side of the road.
As a 30-year veteran daysailor, I feel a moral obligation to spare you some of the physical and emotional pain I’ve faced over the years. I’m talking about daysailing’s dirty little secrets, the bilgewater of our sport. Feel free to take notes.
“Wake up! Wake up! I think we’re dragging anchor!” Peg’s words pierced my sleep like a needle popping a balloon. In an instant I was standing in the cockpit, face to face with the bowsprit of a large Island Packet that had been anchored three football fields away the night before.
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