My friend and fellow sailor Bill Winslow’s article on when it’s time to quit sailing is thought provoking. We’ve sailed hundreds of miles together over the past 20 years. A week on salt water on his boat, and a week on fresh water on Wind Dancer, my Dufour 34. His description of our Kingston experience is accurate. We were trying to get in ahead of the front brining strong winds that was forecast for three hours later. The jib unfurled and the harsh whipping tore the leech out.
Fortunately, when I put the roller furling on, as a safety measure to avoid having to go forward to change sails in rough seas, I had saved two sails: a storm jib and drifter. I fashioned hanks from rope loops to run up the roller furler and hanked the storm jib on for our return to Henderson Harbor the next day – up in the northeast corner of Lake Ontario, about a 35 mile run.
Several years ago, I helped Bill sail his newly acquired Cornish Crabber 24 from Annapolis to its new home on Great Peconic Bay between the forks at the end of Long Island (I write about that trip in another article). And on the long slog he refers to in the article from Martha’s Vineyard to his home port. It was a trying and tiring sail.
But I’m not ready to toss off the sails yet. I’m 88 in 2016, survived a major heart attack, prostate cancer, hip and knee replacements. I’m sailing from Dominican Republic to Tortola in April with Hank Schmidt of Offshore Sailing Opportunities (OPO), a 300 mile trek upwind on Avocation, a 48’ Swan.
Here’s what I do to counter the physical issues Bill writes about:
Exercise regularly – for heart and joints. Work on flexibility and strength.
Not sail on the edge as much as I once did.
Sail with young crew who can help with docking and cranking.
With regard to the mental limitations, what I have to watch is that sometimes the spirit is more willing and gung-ho than the body is capable of doing.
The bonus of sailing with young crew is having time with kids and grandkids, nephews and nieces – often time I wouldn’t otherwise have. The boat and cruising is not only about sailing – but also about relationships. That involves not only sharing time but also sharing hopes and dreams, success and failures, facing challenges together and having fun.