Approximately one month after I received the offer for the Summer Associate position in Las Vegas, Andrew decided he wanted to circumnavigate in a sailboat. So, we started in on Phase 2 and 3. Andrew started his research, but it was immediately obvious where we should start. If one wishes to sail around the world, one must first learn how to sail. We were starting from scratch. Sailboats were nothing but a figment of Andrew's imagination; neither of us had even looked at a sailboat up close. This was a problem that must be remedied if we were going to get this dream launched.
In his research, Andrew happened upon the Great Salt Lake Yacht Club. One might think that there is no yacht club in the high, arid Utah desert, but indeed, there is. In January of 2005 they were hosting meetings at a near by library for people interested in learning more about sailing. Andrew attended his first meeting, and won a sailing book in a raffle drawing. He concluded: IT WAS MEANT TO BE.
I attended the next meeting, too, where I experienced the aggravation of learning to tie a bowline knot….something about a rabbit, a tree, a hole and a log. After many failed attempts, I got it. I also learned a hitch knot, a double half hitch, a reef knot and a figure eight stopper knot. Suddenly, I could hang up my own hammock without help. I concluded: IT WAS MEANT TO BE.
And, it was at this meeting we were told the secret to learning how to sail…start racing.
But how? How could two people who never stepped foot on a sailboat in their life simply - start racing? The secret is this: in yacht clubs across the world there are many people who own their boats, ready to captain their ship to victory if only they had enough race crew. It gets so bad that these people are willing to take just about anyone on as race crew. As luck would have it, our sailing resume qualified us as "Just About Anyone.” These people also love sailing so much that they will take a noob under their wing and teaching them the "ropes". (Ha! Pun. Except that they aren't called "ropes" on a sailboat. They are "sheets" or “lines.” That is lesson #1 for you.)
There is still a trick to being accepted onto a race boat. So, here’s how you do it:
1) Arrive at the dock early, 20-30 minutes in advance of the scheduled captain's meeting wearing soft soled shoes.
2) (MOST IMPORTANT STEP) Hold in hand an ample supply of the Yacht Club's beverage of choice - Beer or Monster and/or Sailor Jerry have proven to be good choices for us. Make sure this ample supply is prominently displayed as you arrive at the dock. Preferably aluminum cans rather than glass, one case will do it, no more, no less. (You don't want to add too much weight to a race boat, but you also want to make clear this stash is not for your own personal consumption.)
3) Look slightly lost, slightly awkward, but ready for a good time.
As captains mill about you, they will look upon you (and your ample beverage supply) with curiosity. Who are these people? Usually, members of yacht clubs know each other pretty well, so when someone new shows up out of the blue (carrying an ample supply of beverages) they stick out like a sore thumb.
And we did. Pretty soon, one captain says: "Hey, are you here to sail?" When you answer affirmatively, they will ask you if you know how to sail. The answer is no, but then something remarkable happens. All the captains then start volunteering! "You can ride with me. Want to ride with me? I'll take you out."
As explained in our February 28 welcome post, this is exactly how we bamboozled our first Captain into taking us out on the Great Salt Lake Yacht Club’s frostbite race. He and his crew showed us around and fed us chili. Thus began our tutelage in sailing.
The ample supply of beverages. It does the trick every time.