One of the great things about sailing is how it brings people together from dissimilar walks of life. Folks who might otherwise have little in common find it easy to make conversation on the deck of a sailboat. While this may be true of any number of interests, I've found it to be particularly true of the sailing community. Doctors, scientists, truckers, and clergyman all stand as equals on a man-made boat before the Master of wind, water, and all.
My wife and I have just completed another step in our sailing journey with the completion of our ASA 103 - Basic Coastal Cruising Certification with the Maryland School of Sailing and Seamanship based out of Rock Hall, Maryland. You can read about how we first discovered and selected the MD School in my post from our ASA 101 course here. We had a great group of classmates and our instructors for the four day course were Capt. Don Boccuti and Capt. Andy Barton, who are both knowledgeable and adept instructors with a wealth of practical sailing experiences to share.
Thankfully, we enjoyed fair weather for the duration of the course with plenty of wind for all but the final day of the class, at which point we simply employed the "iron jib" for more docking practice. We acquired a lot of new skills including basic chart work and navigation, reefing, man overboard tactics, docking, and much more aboard the school's Island Packet 32 "Acadame," a forgiving vessel that took fine care of its crew. Rock Hall is a neat town on the Eastern Shore with a surprising number of restaurants serving local fare. A few of the popular spots include Waterman's Crab House, Bay Wolf, Harbor Shack, Swan Point Inn, and The Kitchen. Be sure to call ahead...it's a small town.
We are planning to return to Rock Hall in the Spring for our ASA 104 - Bareboat Charter Certification, which will include cruise planning, more advanced navigation and seamanship, and more to ensure we have the skills to travel independently on sailboats up to 40ft LOA. We wholeheartedly recommend the Maryland School of Sailing and Seamanship and look forward to the next adventure in pursuit of the dream of cruising.
With that, I leave you with a quote from that voluminous work Chesapeake and a popular favorite of our instructor, Capt Don:
"A ship, like a human being, moves best when it is slightly athwart the wind, when it has to keep its sails tight and attend its course. Ships, like men, do poorly when the wind is directly behind, pushing them sloppily on their way so that no care is required in steering or in the management of sails; the wind seems favorable, for it blows in the direction one is heading, but it actually is destructive because it induces a relaxation in tension and skill. What is needed is a wind slightly opposed to the ship, for then the tension can be maintained, and juices can flow and ideas can germinate, for ships, like men, respond to challenge." -- James A. Michener