This is what singlehanded sailing is all about: magical moments that fill the senses, where it’s just you and the boat and the open sky. Singlehanded sailing offers a rare chance in this noisy hyper-connected world to step off the fast track, slow down, and listen to the quiet, if only for a short while.
My dad came from a long line of sailors and seafarers, but he didn’t start boating himself until he was nearly 50. I was 12 years old when he bought a 14ft Rhodes Bantam. Together, with some trials and errors, we set about learning to sail it.
Sailors on the lower Great Lakes regard Lake Superior with a mixture of awe, respect and—frankly—fear. Tales of cold and fog, shipwrecks and wind keep most of us from exploring Superior’s shores. But there is another side to this greatest of the Great Lakes, and I found it on a summer cruise aboard my Westsail 32, Antares.
I was sailing solo to Bermuda one year when the weather turned wicked. The wind and waves kept building, until finally I lay ahull with the sails furled. Knockout blows from the steep seas pounded my Westsail 32, Antares. When at last the storm blew over I found both halyards were loose and had wrapped around the masthead in a huge tangle. I had no choice but to climb. Going aloft in a
This article originally appeared in the October 2009 issueWhen I first saw Antares, she was sitting forgotten and forlorn in a boatyard’s back lot. Weeds grew tall around her and her once bright hull was streaked with grime. But something in her lines caught my eye and I knew at once that this Westsail 32 was what I wanted in an offshore cruiser. Gazing up, I was smitten
Many sailors dream of voyages to tropic shores and swaying palms, but Great Lakes sailors need look no farther than their backyards for some of the world’s best cruising. The Great Lakes are great indeed, stretching over 1,100 miles from eastern Lake Ontario to Duluth, Minnesota, on Lake Superior. I’ve sailed these waters for much of my life, most recently aboard my Westsail 32 Antares. Each of
While sailing alone one summer on the south shore of Lake Superior on my Westsail 32, Antares, I approached Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula from the east. The Keweenaw juts out into the lake like a giant thumb. Through its base runs the tranquil Portage River, a handy shortcut for boats traveling this coast.After motoring up Keweenaw Bay, I anchored for the night in an open marshy area on a
I have always been drawn to solo sailing. I’m not sure if it’s the challenge, the peace and solitude, or just the difficulty of finding good crew. Singlehanding has its risks, but I’ve also found sailing alone very rewarding.Aboard my Westsail 32, Antares, I cruised from Detroit up Lake Huron and into Lake Michigan. The first leg, from Port Huron to Mackinac
I had signed on as crew aboard a yacht sailing down to the South Pacific from the Galapagos. A young woman also came aboard for the same leg and she and I were assigned watches together. She was a difficult shipmate, with a fickle personality that veered unpredictably from chatty and social to argumentative and sullen as suddenly as a summer squall.One day, after we’d been underway for a
I once sailed my Westsail 32, Antares, from Virginia to Bermuda. Through 760 miles of open ocean, Gulf Stream storms with towering seas, setbacks and survival, I was completely alone. I’ve crewed aboard boats all over the world, but I had never experienced conditions like those of the first days of the passage.I was mugged by a nasty northerly gale just off Cape Hatteras. Battered
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