Ready, Set…Sail – Take up a new hobby for life

Singer Christopher Cross wasn’t wrong when he sang his classic tune, “Sailing”. In his words “if the wind is right you can sail away and find tranquility.” You just need to know how to skipper a sailboat and find a place to set sail from. If you’ve always wanted to take lessons, you need look no further than the Oakville or Bronte Harbour or LaSalle Marina in Burlington.

A Broadened Horizon
Sailing has many physical health benefits, but there’s more to the sport than just sore forearms and tired feet from moving from bow to stern, manning all of the equipment, and ducking under the boom.

Once you take up sailing, you’re always learning. Even experienced sailors find there is always something new to figure out, or a new set of weather conditions to master. There’s personal reflection involved, and especially when racing, technique and strategy make all the difference. Learning how to manoeuvre the ship through the water and how to navigate through the elements brings new skills to the table. Unless you’re a passenger just relaxing on deck, sailing trains your brain; it requires focus and hard work.

Sail Stress Away
The sport may involve some hard work, but by the time you’re ready to man your own boat it can be very relaxing. Imagine gliding through the water with nothing but sea and sky on the horizon. It is also a very social sport, and both young and old sailors can make lifelong friendships with fellow crew or other members of the sailing club. And once you have learned the basics, you can sail anywhere and enjoy different surroundings.

Ahoy, Accomplishment
Learning to sail takes dedication and passion. You will learn how to face certain challenges, either due to the weather or a malfunction of the boat, and on land you can transition those same skills when other unpredictable issues in life occur. All sailors have a healthy respect for nature, and understand the inherent dangers of wind and water. Acquiring the skills to captain your own boat is definitely a unique and invaluable experience, and will result in a real feeling of personal accomplishment.

Young children and teenagers can get involved and develop an appreciation and skill level for sailing too. The Burlington Sailing & Boating Club (BSBC), The Oakville Yacht Squadron (OYS), and Bronte Harbour Yacht Club (BHYC) offer classes and the CANSail summer camp program to would-be sailors. From the first day, campers are taught to be safe, have fun, learn to be a better sailor, work together and make friends. The Wet Feet camp (ages 5 – 8) is at an introductory level to get them comfortable with sailing. Kids learn basic rigging, boat parts and knots. Beginner Sailing (ages 9 and up) and Intermediate Sailing takes older kids through CANSail levels one through four, covering balance, basic concepts, propulsion, further boat rigging, control, knots and boat parts all the way to directional changes and advanced sailing skills such as trapeze and spinnaker. These clubs also offer race teams and big boat sailing lessons for kids.

Each club offers day camps in July and August for children. Adult classes are available in the evenings and/or weekends through each club, with women’s-only classes available at BSBC.

Did you know that “in the doldrums’ is a sailing term? The doldrums is an area in the ocean on either side of the equator where sailing can be difficult because of unstable and light wind conditions, calms and squalls. Of course it has also come to mean a feeling of listlessness, stagnation or despondency in everyday life. But once you get a feel for sailing, you’ll find a new freedom and need never feel depressed or marooned on dry land again. Just climb aboard and set a course for adventure.

Local Links:
Burlington Sailing & Boating Club

Bronte Harbour Yacht Club

The Oakville Yacht Squadron

By Becky Dumais

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