The Sailing Bug

I suppose the bug has always been there. It was just a matter of time before it caught up with me. I have been on the water my entire life. Longer than I can remember, I guess, because my father will tell me stories that I had no clue ever happened. To the best of my knowledge, here is what led to me aquiring the Veture King. It would have all started in a canoe. I was told this story about one of the first times out with my father. We were just getting back from a paddle, my dad was out of the boat getting ready to take me out and put me on the shore. I guess a wave had hit the side of the canoe and washed up over the edge a bit getting me wet. Being a small boy I started to cry. To get me to stop my father told me to stop crying or my mother wouldn’t let me come back out again. That’s all it took. I immediately stopped. After hearing that story for the first time about a year ago it occurred to me that I have never been unhappy on the water.

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My sister learning to canoe the same way I did.

I do remember starting out soloing by myself. It all started with a long line tied to the stern of the canoe with the other end tied to shore. I could paddle out and practice turning with my J stroke but could be dragged back with the first sign of trouble. I would have been quite small starting out at this, maybe seven or eight years old. It seems young now that I think about it but starting by myself that small has made me so much more confident once I got older.

Once I was able to shed the rope I could get out on my own much farther. Again, I probably wasn’t much past nine years old. There is this one time I remember distinctly about this time. We where camping on a lake and I was out for a paddle on my own when I came across this cadet “survival” camp where everybody was making shelters and what not on this other island. I guess one of the instructors noticed me and started hollering at me to get back to shore because I wasn’t (or the cadets weren’t) allowed to be out in a canoe by themselves. On that note I just turned around and paddled off out of sight back to were I was camping. The funny thing is those cadets would have been at least three years older than me and kept under much stricter supervision even in a “survival” situation. Not that my father didn’t watch me, he just could trust that I could handle what I was doing and as it turns out I always have on a boat.

Not too long after that time my father picked up a second identical canoe. It was not only me and him but my younger brother and sister, and our two dogs that were all trying to get on the water and the one canoe wasn’t cutting it. So now I was in command of my own boat even with my brother on board. Before we used to sit side by side in the front and take turns paddling. Not any more. Now I was always in control and my father would be in the other canoe with my sister.

The real sailing bug started when my father started making sails for the canoes. There were some smaller prototypes that just kept getting improved more and more until we had a pretty good setup for both canoes. Then one time while we were camping we thought we could get even more power from the sails if we tied the two boats together and had both sails going. Boy did that ever work. We eventually also spread the canoes farther apart and put an old army stretcher in the middle to make a catamaran. We could sail, fish swim, and eat on that thing without ever having to worry about tipping or being too crowded. Eventually my father traded in those two canoes for some smaller (and lighter) aluminum ones and we were still able to rig up our catamaran setup but the aluminum was no match for the ruggedness of the plastic ones we initially had. I kind of blessing occurred after a few years with the smaller boats though. Someone stole them right off the trailer and my father was able to get some more plastic Coleman just like he had through the insurance. Back in business. That lasted for quite a few more years until everybody was grown and my father was left to manage those two heavy canoes by himself. I think eventually they just wore out but we all definitely got our use out of them.

A few years later my dad picked up some kayaks for himself and my mother. He took me out for my first time in a kayak when I was about twenty-one. I remember that day clearly because we didn’t get that far. We put in up at some property we have at the mouth of a river that leads out into the Bras D’Or lakes. It didn’t seem very rough in there because we were sheltered in a valley. I had a little bit of distance to get the feel for a kayak as we paddled towards the lake. I thought it wasn’t too bad, but certainly a lot “livelier” than the canoes that I had grown up in. By the time we had reached the lake the wind was really blowing. I would have to say it was a good twenty knots if not a little more. There were some really good-sized waves for the lake that day. We didn’t get too far out before my father decided it was too much. It was all still new to him as well and I didn’t realize until later but his kayak was much skinnier and much livelier than mine. I remember that first rush feeling of being in those waves and having them wash right over top of me and being able to just keep going. You can’t take waves like that in a canoe without going for a swim so it was a new experience. I was hooked to the kayaks for a while after that. I took some courses and did some kayak guiding for a summer and was really enjoying it. We would get out all the time and do different parts of the area just like being in a canoe but we could cover much farther distances than those heavy canoes. I ended up getting the kayak my father was using, buying my wife her own and moving away for work. We would still get out and trying different lakes and I would bring the kayak back up whenever I visited my parents to get out with my father.

A little hitch in the kayak outing came when I had my son. The benefit of having the canoe when I was small was being able to be in it while my father did all the work. I still had a canoe but I thought it would be hard to go back to a slow canoe after being in the speedy kayaks for so long. The bug got back in me as I went back to see my parents just a few months after my son was born. Me and my father went out for a paddle in his tandem kayak he now has for himself and my mother. He had just bought a sailing package that was designed for kayaks complete with outriggers and some swinging dagger boards. We took it out and the wind was actually quite strong and at a weird angle. We managed to sail about 6 km down the lake and then turn around after a break and sail all the way back up without really putting a paddle in the water. What a great quick trip without any effort of paddling. I could get a setup just like that for my canoe and still get my son out at an early age. Once I figured out the price for one of these though I really started thinking about another way. Why pay $2000 dollars for this sail package for an old canoe when I could get a real sailboat for less than $10,000 and not have to mess around. You could spend a few days on a sailboat and never have to worry about packing your camping gear either. I could get my son out on the water much earlier than I even was and he could be sailing a real sailboat by himself instead of a little canoe. That was the basic idea but it wasn’t really set in stone until I found the perfect first sailboat. A 1978 Venture 2-22. It was a trailerable sailboat with a swing keel. It was perfect that I wouldn’t be confined to a single marina and could take it anywhere to launch and wouldn’t break the bank. Once I made the trip down, checked it out thoroughly after reading as much as I could about surveying, picked it up and got it home, even my wife started to warm up to the crazy decision I had just made. Although at the time of writing this she hasn’t been out in it yet.

I won’t get into The Venture King too much in this post. I’ll save that for the next one. But this story is yet to stop here as I’ll be posting all about my outings, repairs, upgrades, etc that will be going on. Hopefully if all goes well I’ll be able to post about when I notice my son catching the sailing bug as well.

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