The Pre-Sail

To get ready for my first ever solo-sail, I did quite a bit of research and investigating to prepare for this daunting task.  I mean, i know that sailing will require a lot of time on and off the water.  The hobby requires a certain level of commitment if you want to get any joy and satisfaction out of it, and i know that it also takes a lot of money for storage and upkeep.  My fear was that all of the habitual maintenance would eventually make this fun endeavor feel more like a chore than a joyful past time.  What i’m really hoping to do is enjoy beautiful and memorable sunsets and sunrises on the water.  I like the idea of becoming one with my environment and “overcoming” the challenges that nature can throw at me.  I’m not looking to sail the Atlantic right away, but a few channels, rivers and bigger lakes are a solid place to start.

Since i didn’t grow up sailing, nor am I an experienced sailer, I decided the prudent choice would be to take sailing classes.  I enrolled in a local sailing course and learned about the basics.  They went over all the fundamentals (boring stuff) starting with boat safety, like knowing the laws, signaling and proper gear.  Then they progressively advance to learning to steer the sail boat with a tiller and rudder.  They go over the things that seem obvious and intuitive but also over those that aren’t.  We also had to learn the parts of the sail boat and what they do, how they affect the boat and how to assess the situation if you find yourself in a dangerous predicament.  Catching a good gust of wind is tricker than it sounds.  “Tacking and jibbing aren’t something you learn from a youtube video”, the instructor kept repeating.  You’ll only learn by getting out there and making (smaller) mistakes.  Taking the course was somewhat easy but I knew that putting it into practice was going to be a surmountable obstacle.  Wish me luck!

Class was done and it was time to put pen to paper (metaphorically and not like I did when I took the exam). I decided I wanted to look for a good beginners boat that was easy to steer, one that was responsive and had a tight turning radius.  I wanted something that wouldn’t sink if I took my eyes off what I was doing for a split second.  I also knew that boat maintenance is a requirement so i was looking for something that didn’t look completely beat up and would need lower maintenance from me.  I had to be real with myself – i’m not a very handy person and I really don’t know how to repair boats, but i’m not completely opposed to learning.  My budget wasn’t big by any means but I realized that I could devote $5k for a used beginner boat.  I researched online, ready forums and posts and made several calls inquiring about which boat to get.  I decided to go with the Catalina 22.  I was sold, now I just had to find “the one”.  The one I was on the hunt for had to have a fixed fin keel for control and maneuvering and had to handle very well in close quarters.  The Catalina 22 also has plenty of head room for two people on board.

I have to admit, I was pretty overwhelmed with the search process.  The good thing is that there were several of these models to choose from but they were each in different physical conditions.  Like buying a used car, you have to decide which one you think is going to give you the least problems and headaches (because from what I understand, they all will).  I decided to go with one that had only one owner who was older in age, but I could obviously tell that he took care of it.  He even agreed to include his seat cushions and covers to sweeten the deal a bit.  I ended up paying on the higher end of my budget but i’m ok with that because i’m convinced it was the right decision.

When I took the boat home, I immediately stored it along the side of the house, covered her up and couldn’t wait to take her out to the water.  Getting to sail her was definitely going to be the next adventure (or disaster).

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