Every Summer

Submitted by Eva White from Bristol

There has not been one summer that I don’t remember spending its majority at Herreshoff’s sailing program. As a student and now instructor, sailing has become the root of many memories and friendships. The past summer sticks out to me the most, probably because it was most recent or maybe because of the pandemic. Regardless, the season was like every other, beautiful sailboats, both wooden and fiberglass, with unique experiences.

One would think sailing back and forth in the small area between Hog Island and Bristol Harbor would become a complete drag. I disagree, unless there is no wind, but to me that’s drifting not sailing. There are so many stories I could tell, many of them embarrassing, and I’ll share a few.

As a student I remember sailing small catamarans, Hobie waves, built for 1 to 4 sailors. The combination of being hardy and super easy to rig and sail made them the perfect boats for young sailors. They let intermediate/advanced campers take them out by themselves, of course with some monitoring by the safety boat. We’d cram usually around five of us on one, since we were small. We’d capsize it, right it, capsize it, and right it until we grew tired. We’d push others off when the wind was light. We’d challenge ourselves in heavier winds. We’d just have a blast. Now you could sail these types of boats anywhere, what makes my summers unique is the wooden boats. It was on those beautiful 12 1/2’s where I learned to sail.

A good few years ago, I learned how to fly a spinnaker for the first time. I was on a 12 1/2 with one other student and the instructor. The winds were light but pretty consistent. We organized the sheets, spinnaker sail, pole, and dropped the jib. Then the other student had to leave early. Now it was just me and the instructor, but we decided to fly the spinnaker anyway. We barely talked. We simply sailed.

During this previous summer, my first summer as a sailing instructor, I accidentally fell off a boat for the first time. I have been pushed off and jumped off, but that was the first time I slipped off. I cannot even say it was because of rough waters. The boat was on its mooring. A student asked me a question as they were derigging the main. I was on the bow helping another roll the jib, so I turned around and started walking back, slipped, and fell face forward onto part of the coaming and toppled into the water. The students helped me out and started apologizing, of course it wasn’t their fault and we ended up laughing. Well we laughed after we discovered my phone still turned on. My phone was in my pocket since many of the students want to listen to music while sailing, even if it’s the same oldies playlist I always play. Anyways, I thought that was kind of funny. I’ve sailed through some harsh winds and waves, yet I end up falling off when the boat is securely on its mooring.

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