August 23, 2012

Sailboat Ride Checked Off My Bucket List



(Photographer: Monte W. Holland)

It wasn’t on my bucket list.

In fact, it was never even a conscious desire.

One day, while visiting Lakeside, Ohio, I admired the rainbow-colored assortment of sailboats beside the beach.

Later in the week my husband Monte and I had shared a sandwich and soup in the Lakeside Hotel restaurant. Our table was in front of a window with a great view of the sailboats.

While swimming one hot afternoon  I checked out a section not surrounded by ropes.

“I guess this section is for the expert swimmer” I said.

“Pretty much,” he said.

During our conversation we saw a sailboat tip over. It lay flat on its side.

“Do the sailors know what they are doing? I asked, expecting that the lifeguard would have to jump in the water to rescue them.

“I hope so,” he said.

On the next very sweltering afternoon I sat reading on the pavilion of the dock, trying to catch the wafts of a minimal breeze. I kept glancing up to watch the colorful sailboats on Lake Erie.

A thought flitted across my mind: I’ve never been on a sailboat.

Suddenly, the urge to have a sailboat ride gained the strength needed to add it to my bucket list.

I gathered up the nerve to speak with a couple of young guys whom I’d seen sailing in the bay.

“Do either of you give sailboat rides?”

“You have to ask our boss.”

I waited for the boss sail in. As he rolled up his sail I asked him about the possibility of a sailboat ride.

“We give one hour lessons,” he said.

“I don’t want to learn how to sail,” I said. “I’ve never been on a sailboat, and I’d just like to have a short sail around this cozy bay. I have no desire to learn how to sail, and I don’t live in an area where people routinely sail.”

I decided I needed to whine a little.

“I’m an old lady,” I said. “I’ve never been sailing before. It would be nice to just once be out on a sailboat. It would be a shame to come to my end and never have done so.”

I think the boss took pity on me. He caved. I must congratulate myself on whining successfully.

“Can you be here at 10:00 tomorrow morning?”

“Yes. What will you charge?”

“$20.” Good, just what I had thought would be a reasonable price.

Mid-morning I at the Lake Erie shore—on time. The boss was there already. I handed my husband Monte my camera. Monte handed me his cap (of all times to neglect to bring mine) and I grabbed my towel, which I felt would be good to protect my already sunburned arms from the sun.

While I watched the boss set the sail I inserted myself into the bright orange life jacket.

Then he guided me into the small boat I dropped my towel in the water. I grabbed the soggy terrycloth and laid it on the sailboat floor. I sat on the edge of the sailboat and the boss shoved off.

“Here, hold this rope,” the boss said. “Pull on the rope until the air fills the sail.”

The boss had just given me my first sailing lesson. It trulywas easy—I quickly sensed the correct tension that kept the sail full.

We headed out through the bay. Straight out. Past the pier. Oops—I expected to just go around the inside bay. I’m up to it.

Suddenly a gust of wind attacked us. I almost fell backwards off the sailboat. I’m glad I can swim. And I’m glad I have a lifejacket on.

The gust finished plying its power and the sailing was smooth again.

Then the boss said tack.


He quickly explained—I was to duck under the sail to sit on the opposite side of the boat. This was in preparation for making a turn.

This is where the effects of an old body set in. I couldn’t make the move because my knees were bad. I looked for something to grab onto for support, so I could lift my body with my arms instead of my knees. And there was nothing to grab onto.

Finally I managed to very ungracefully and unladylike shift my body under the sail to the opposite side of the sailboat.

We were turned and heading toward shore. I quickly grabbed the rope and adjusted the tension correctly on the sail. And I now knew that when sailing instruction sites say one of the first rules of sailing is to learn the vocabulary, they are correct. Why hadn’t I thought about that? I guess because I wasn’t going out for a sailing lesson, but for a sailing ride.

We entered the small bay without further incident.

Then the boss again said tack. Now knowing what he meant, I tacked a little quicker this time and the boat turned and headed out toward the lake waters again.

We made it out and back without further incident, and he took me out half the distance again.

“Is it common for you to take passengers out for rides?” I asked the boss.


I decided not to question him further.


As I rummage through pictures in my files (looking for other things) I find numerous pictures of sailboats taken in various locations. I can still look at them and feel the romanticism that they evoke.

Portland Light, Maine

Unidentified Location

The sailboat ride only lasted fifteen minutes, but I can now cross taking a sailboat ride off my bucket list—almost as soon as it was written into the list. It was enjoyable, but it is probably the only sailboat ride I will experience in my life. And I will continue to enjoy viewing and photographing other sailboats sailing lazily on soft summer days.




Honus Wagner & Me

A Time With Grandson Marcus: Part 1

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