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Wind-less Sailing and the Sandbar

Jen grew up in the Bay Area in California and enjoys reminiscing about her childhood

When I was young, we had a sailboat. It was a 22-foot long boat. My dad had always loved all things sea-related, and he'd been wanting to get a sailboat for a long time. We had a jet boat already, and in the summers we would go water-skiing on the delta, but he really wanted a sailboat.

When my parents bought the sailboat, I was about 10 or 11, and my brother was just a toddler. We took the boat with us camping at the lake, and we took it out on the delta. We even spent a long weekend camping in the boat, which was really fun. But one trip stands out more than any other.

My dad, little brother, a neighbor, and I on a camping trip, 1987

My dad, little brother, a neighbor, and I on a camping trip, 1987

By its nature, a sailboat thrives with the wind. Our boat had a motor for those not-so-windy days. My mom was always very nervous about sailing. She isn't anymore - maybe it was maternal instinct because my brother was still so small - she's much more adventurous now. But one thing that always made my mom nervous about sailing was the way the boat would lean with the wind. We all knew that was what the boat was supposed to do, but it just made my mom so anxious. We still like to tease her about how she always hoped it wouldn't be windy when we went sailing, and we'd have to use the motor.

It was fun being on the boat, wind or not, but I still remember how my father's face would light up when he was sailing - he was in his element.

One year, we went out on the boat for the Fourth of July. We had my grandparents with us on this trip. We were sailing out near the Benicia Bridge when my dad asked my grandma if she would like to steer the boat. She was delighted at the thought, and she was so happy as she got into position and took control of the rudder. Not two minutes later, we slowed and stopped. My dad, being his ornery self, said to my grandma, "What did you do? You ran us into a sand bar!" My dad loved to give his mother-in-law a hard time. At first, Grandma was upset, then she started to laugh as she realized that my dad knew we were heading into a sandbar, and that's why he offered to let her steer. We all had a laugh out of it after my dad gave my grandma sufficient grief over her "error" that was his fault. Of course, it wasn't a big deal, we just had to crank up the keel and use the oars to push off the sandbar.

That was a great Fourth of July. Once it was dark we were able to watch the fireworks from five different cities over the water. It was beautiful. It was a day I will never forget. And I know my grandma got a kick out of telling people about the sandbar incident for many years.

© 2020 Jen Silagy