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A Sailing Story

[Background: I was once told that I was "sailing along at too fast a clip", and was in danger of burnout in ADF. This was my response.]

My second year at Boy Scout camp, a friend and I were learning to sail. It was one of those small sail boats. One person could sail it if he wanted to, but we were in this together. We got out into the lake and we raised the sail.

Neither Adam nor I had any experience with a sail. We didn't read the how-to manuals, and this was well before I'd ever read a high-seas adventure. I knew, effectively, nothing of sailing.

But when that sail caught the wind, we were off. Despite it being a calm day, the sail seemed to move in the wind with no problems. I lead the line for the sail, and Adam worked the rudder.

We gathered speed on a straight run with the wind for about a minute, and then realized that if we kept going in one direction, we'd eventually hit sand (or another boat). After a short shouted argument, I gave Adam the okay to hit the rudder and turn us around while I pulled in the sail.

Adam turned the rudder sharp to the right, and the boat began to rise out of the water. We ducked the sail and quickly threw our weight to the high side, at this point riding almost vertically in the water. Imagine the sail skimming the water, and two boys clinging to the side of the boat, and you'll see what the slack-jaws on the beach saw that day.

Our weight eventually brought the boat back down to the water, and we sailed back in the direction we came, grinning ear to ear. We passed the docs at a good clip, going just as fast into the wind as we were running with it, and decided to try again. The wind whipped the sail back, but we were already on the left side of the boat, high above the water, riding it around the sharp curve.

We stayed on the lake an hour or two, waving at the kids on the beach, laughing at the sunlight on the water, and shifting from side to side, just out of reach of those hungry waves that slapped the boat's sides.

When we finally brought it in, one of our Assistant Scoutmasters, Tim, came up to us. He said he'd been watching for the past half hour, and asked us if we'd managed to stay afloat the whole time sailing like that.

"Sailing like what?" I asked.

"Well, every time you guys would make a turn, I'd see the sail nearly hit the water, and these two little swimsuit-clad butts scurry to the dry side of the boat. Didn't they teach you how to turn in your merit badge?"

"Merit badge? We aren't in a merit badge. We've never even seen a sailboat before," said Adam, a bit puzzled. "Are we supposed to do it different?"

"Well," said Tim, "I guess not. You're both still dry."

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