November/December 2001


  • We decided it would be prudent for me to develop my navigation skills. Ken encouraged me to take a course simply to bolster my confidence

Then I waited anxiously for the months to pass. I arrived in Portland at the end of July and explored the charming waterfront area while waiting for the start of my sailing school adventure. The next day I was welcomed aboard.
Students ranged in age from a high school senior to 40- or 50-something, and our skill ranged from complete novice to experienced sailor. Right away we gathered on deck for our first lesson in coastal navigation.Larry guided us as we developed a compass rose and chart, writing directly on the cabin top!
(Larry removes the marks after every class.) We learned about charts by making one, focusing on the most critical parts of the chart without the confusion of numerous markings. We learned how to measure for the appropriate placement of latitude and longitude lines. We charted several practice routes.

On our first sail we kept track of our location using a taffrail log and charted our progress on our cabin top chart, as well as on a real chart. Larry’s experience as a maths teacher helped us to quickly grasp the concept of dead reckoning.

Following our “classroom” instruction and a delicious lunch served in the cockpit, Larry directed Kate, the high school senior, to steer as we set off on our first sail. He calmly gave her instructions as she motored the 52-footer away from the dock and out of the harbour. I doubt I would have been that calm turning over the wheel of our boat to a novice. We could hear the tension in Kate’s voice when she said,

  • I don't even know how to drive a car!

Larry calmly gave her step-by-step directions, assuring her she could do it. Larry taught sailing terms and points of sail, while assigning each person tasks to raise sails and navigate our course. Letty quietly assisted students, reinforcing Larry’s instruction.

Peaceful landfall
After a short afternoon sail we made landfall at Diamond Cove on Diamond Island, a peaceful and picturesque little harbor.
It was good that this was a short sail. Three of five students were seasick due to the substantial ocean swell. Letty passed the designated bucket around to those in need, and Larry emptied it overboard without missing a beat in his instruction. There was no swell on subsequent days, and no one was seasick again, though some of us used our scopolamine patches just in case.

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