should teach their kids to sail and take them cruising!"
"the fine art of getting wet and becoming ill while slowly
going nowhere at great expense…" wait, wrong dictionary. I'll
Sailing: "the fine art of moving across the surface of water
by means of the wind filling one or more sails" (that's
better), is a skill only a small percentage of kids know how to do.
But sailing is one of the healthiest things a kid can do (unless, of
course, you're subject to seasickness). Read this article to find
out why kids and sailing should go hand in hand.
First of all, to be
very simple, sailing is just a fun thing to do. Flying silently
across the waves gives me an indescribable, excited thrill.
Actually, you don't fly all that silently. The bow bashes into the
waves, the wind whistles and whips, the winches click, the genoa
flaps when you come about. But in some strange way, for all the
noise, sailing is a quiet sport. And to know that you, only
you, are in charge of the boat, that the boat will yield to your
every command, (well, almost… commanding a perfect jibe and
capsizing instead usually isn't planned) definitely is enough to
make you want to sail all day. Sailing is FUN, period.
Second, sailing builds character. Knowing that when you have the
tiller you are completely in charge of the boat teaches
responsibility. Knowing that you can sail well, that you are able to
do something a large number of your peers can't do, raises your
self-esteem. Taking care of the boat and keeping it in working order
teaches respect. Being able to control the boat under harsh
conditions teaches you self-control. Sailing teaches all these
things and more.
In my experience, sailing is also a stress-reliever. You are
concentrating so much on the motion of the boat, the sails, the
tiller, the wind, your painful wind-burned lips, and the fact that
you have no Chapstick that you totally forget about that math test
that you forgot to study for.
Why should parents take their kids cruising? So many reasons, I
can't write about them all! I will write about some of them,
however, and since I am a kid myself, they are all true (and good)
One reason, and the most important reason for me, is the
closeness with your family (literally!). The summer of 2002, my
family went on a 2-week cruise on Lake of the Woods. We started at
Northern Harbour in Kenora, Canada, and most of our Lake of the
Woods exploring took place in Canada. Our boat is a Chrysler '26,
which, as most nautical people know, isn't really the biggest boat,
although it is very reliable. So, I was very close to my family for
14 days. Since I love my family, I didn't mind this. Not too
much. Anyway, the point is I got to spend some quality time with my
family. Cooking over the propane stove with mom. Laughing at myself
when I was too scared to light it.
(Well, hey, I didn't want singed eyebrows.)
Watching the stars with dad, and seeing the International Space
Station pass overhead. Running back onto the boat when we heard
suspicious snorting in the woods. Reading books with my sister on
the bow of the boat, leaning into the genoa bag and watching the
sunset throw its pastel colors against the evening sky. And of
course, playing the "super hero game" with my 5-year-old
A cruise is a great learning experience. I learned some great
things on our trip. For example, why does lichen grow on rocks?
Because it LICHENS it there! (My very intelligent father taught this
piece of knowledge to me). Also, I learned never to drink pine
needle tea, and how to judge the coldness of the lake water by how
loud my sister's scream is when she jumps in. I learned not to take
pictures of birds because they won't turn out. Well, they do turn
out, but they turn out as black, white, or brown specks. I also
learned how to get the best berth when it is raining outside, that a
crayfish can be caught with a stick and some moldy cheese, and that
I can live without a computer for two weeks! These are all
very important lessons for life.
Cruising also teaches responsibility. Everyone with you relies on
you to do many things. Whether you are raising or lowering the
anchor, rowing ashore to catch the lines to tie up the boat, tying a
tight bowline knot, or even cooking meals, you are always depended
on to do it right the first time. This can make cruising a
little stressful, but when you learn how to do something and
accomplish it for the first time, you get a certain sense of pride
and satisfaction that makes the stress worth it. On a cruise, every
person is an extremely important part of the crew, and everyone is
expected to do his or her share, however young or old.
Another good thing
about cruising is how good you feel after going on a long sail. Now,
I am generally a pretty quiet person. But, I, quiet, shy Kelsey,
have tacked up Sturgeon Channel in Lake of the Woods, Canada, in
24-knot winds. While my brother and sister slept, I either handled
the tiller, which was experiencing some weather helm, or fought the
genoa. I learned to read the tell-tales and when to turn away from
land on a different tack. I did! And I had fun doing it. When
it was over, I was so proud of myself, and so filled with
self-satisfaction. I had accomplished something huge, and good
feelings abounded. Every kid should have that experience!
Sailing is something that you can get better at with practice,
like many other things in life. My dad says that all the sailing I
do is training, so I will be ready to sail to Desolation Sound and
places North. (That is my dad's dream…to sail Desolation Sound) I
am very excited for that, and I hope I really will be a good enough
sailor someday. So, the life lesson, "practice makes
perfect" applies to sailing, and sailing applies to life.
So, to conclude, I'd like to say to all parents… TEACH YOUR
KIDS THE FINE ART OF SAILING! TAKE YOUR KIDS ON CRUISES, TWO HOURS
OR TWO WEEKS! You definitely won't regret it.
By Kelsey Larson