A gentle breeze blows out of the west… wait… now it’s coming from the south! As the sun sets, a golden hue is sent shimmering over the horizon, and fish are jumping everywhere around us – their splashes indicative of the joy we feel onboard our Sonar. “I always thought sailing was beautiful,” remarks Sue. As an employee of the Waterfront Center, I did not think it fair to talk about our adult and ladies sailing programs without asking our actual participants. While this may be their first season with us, others have been coming for years. Why did they enroll? For some, the simple answer is that it is just something they enjoy, it provides a wonderful way to end the week, and refresh the skills they have gained. Others always dreamt of being a sailor. “I took a course in college on a small Hunter,” Melissa tells us. “But it was bound to happen that I’d end up here anyway!” Both the ages and skill levels of participants range. Some have even sailed for quite some time, but either have not been at the helm or wanted some professional instruction. Our program is different from others in that there is always a focus on achieving a goal, Melissa explains. Everyone here is hoping to gain confidence and comfort. They also, just want to get out on the water. “I used to race, and I missed being out there!” shared Doreen. Most sessions start with a simple question: “What do you want to work on today?” Often there will be a review of the basics – tacking and gybing, wind awareness and knowing what point of sail you are on, safety maneuvers, determining right of way, tackling a course, and fine tuning sail trim… the possibilities are endless. When I asked about the most engaging part of sailing, answers remained quite similar. Much had to do with meeting people that come from all over the island and city and sharing their passion for sailing. I’ve met people from all different backgrounds and walks of life. Yet, we are in this together, partaking in an activity we enjoy, and celebrating in our achievements. Beth emphasizes the teamwork on the boat. Indeed, most of us cannot image rigging the boat without an extra set of hands. Sue asks where the downside in sailing is. “There is none, and we have the best instructors” she replies. “All of the instructors are friendly and gregarious. Adult/ ladies sailing is a great learning environment. Teamwork and interactive learning has been great fun and so enjoyable” says Michele. Beth comments further that “the instructors are wonderful; they are the heart of the WFC!” Instructor, Jeanne, gave a thumbs up and clapped from her coach boat after Cliff successfully completed a heave-to maneuver. “I am so proud of you!” she calls. Cliff then turned to me and described the feeling of accomplishment. “It doesn’t matter what age you are when someone tells you that they are proud of you” – that moment is so rewarding. Jeanne became an instructor “decades ago” simply because the camp she was working at “needed one, and [she] loved sailing.” The most rewarding part of her job is making people love sailing – and seeing the results. A theme echoed amongst the other instructors. We are always having a lot of fun, even when practicing for man-overboard drills. “Man overboard! Go get Bob!”… Bob in that case was a Type IV throwable floatation device/ pillow. When derigging the boat one afternoon, Jeanne’s shoe got loose and flew out of the boat. The current was moving too fast to grab it, and a passing motorboat was hailed to rescue the “yellow shoe overboard!” While we may get serious about completing a task, laughter and cheers are not uncommon sounds in West Harbor. In the summer, adult sailing meets Wednesday nights from 6-8 PM, and Saturdays and Sundays from 1-4 PM. Ladies sailing meets Thursday nights from 6-8 PM. (The only difference between adult sailing and ladies sailing is that ladies sailing is all women.) In the fall, adult sailing runs from 1-4 PM on Saturdays through October 1st. There is always something new to discover each time you sail. You might learn to do a man-overboard in 5 knot winds coming out of the north, but next time you’ll need to adjust to 12 knot winds coming from the south. Every day is different. If this sounds like the program for you, please give us a try. If you’ve already been coming, we can’t wait to see you again soon! It isn’t long until the student becomes the teacher… As Cliff says, “This is the ripple effect.”