October 28, 2020

I love sailing

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Ships and vessels are the oldest means of transport (together with horses) – cars, trains and airplanes were developed in late 19th and in the 20th century. Whereas the first ship remnants – and who knows if there weren’t even older – date back to 2900 BC. So that means we have travelled on water for almost 5000 years!

The Egyptians, these pioneers of civilization, built big ships with at least 40 oars and only one square sail. The mast was uniquely designed to support the big sail, it looked like a sling – its official name is bipod (V-shaped, from two big logs). The steering device consisted usually of two big oars from both sides. With some convenient innovations, these ships were turned into war-ships (additional deck for archers, planks like shields to guard the rowers, wider sails for faster speed, etc.)

As the leading seafaring nations changed over the course of centuries – Venetian, Spaniards, Portuguese, Arabs, Chinese, Dutch – the materials remained essentially the same. Wood was cut into shape or tied together and only very rarely other materials were used for the construction of the main body of ships. This should change with the up rise of Britain after the defeat of the Spanish Armada.

The early settlers to the Cayman Islands were sailors and we have a history of boatbuilders especially sailing ships. The smaller sail boat (fishing boat) came to be built too as fish was a staple diet. In modern times sailing (or yachting) is mainly done here for pleasure.

For many years, the stereotype persisted that sailing was primarily the province of young, hearty men with large, tattooed biceps. Then it was a pastime for the ‘idle’ rich. But this has changed.

Sailing around the Cayman Islands is an increasingly popular recreational activity for families, and with good reason. On a sailboat that requires someone steering at the helm, someone navigating from a map, and even someone swabbing the deck, there is a lot to be done, so there can be a role for everyone from grandpa down to the smallest tot. Sailing as a family encourages the kind of lighthearted cooperation and communication that can help any clan of kin grow closer while having a lot of fun.

Spending an afternoon on our waters is a great way to get away from the stresses of everyday life. Sharing this kind of experience with your loved ones can be a great way to have some quality bonding time. I love sailing because of it.

If you are thinking about exploring this great and soothing sport with your family, here is a perfect way to start. Taking on difficult waters or a very long journey when you and your kin are still getting your sea legs can lead to tension and arguments that can sour the whole experience.

To keep everybody in a good mood, make sure that you and your nearest and dearest have all of the training you need in order to have a calm and safe journey. While it may be tempting to charter a boat and head for Australia right away, try starting with a course in water safety along with basic sailing terminology and techniques.

Even if your family doesn’t fall in love with this uniquely peaceful sport, you will all be likely to have a great time trying it out. The fact that learning to sail is half the fun explains why growing numbers of sailing schools offer classes that are specially designed to suit the needs of families with varying ages of children. So with a little bit of effort you are sure to discover a class that is right for you and your kids.

Located right next to the National Sailing Centre, the Cayman Islands Sailing Club is a fabulous place to learn how to handle the jib, the mainsail, and the rudder. With sailing lessons, rentals, and camps run by internationally certified instructors and coaches on dinghies and keelboats, the club also coaches and trains national team athletes.

Go to their website www.sailing.ky/ Their head instructor is Raph Harvey (345 926 7015) or email: [email protected]  For general club information, membership rates, or to book lessons and boats, contact Rick Caley, Club Manager (345 947 7913/926 7914) or email: [email protected]

Have fun and if you need a partner or another deckhand give me a call. As I said before, I love sailing.

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