There are many places I have never sailed, to be sure. One of them WAS New York Harbor.
I was hesitant about all that river traffic - gigantic Norwegian cruise ships, tankers, ferries and water taxis crisscrossing the river constantly. Yikes!
But I was given the chance to find out because of a gift certificate to take a class at Manhattan Sailing School www.sailmanhattan.com . Located at North Cove Marina just past the 9/11 Memorial, this happy place affords everyone at any level to come and learn.
So the weekend of June 21,22 I trekked (yes, it is a trek by subway from where I live) to arrive at 9AM to a quick cup of coffee and meet my boat mates. And Andy our instructor.
My boat mates were John, Carol, and Evelyn, who had never been on a sailboat, but was clearly an eager student. Oh, and me, who is not a beginner, but there's always something to pick up. Which I did!
Immediately climbing onto our J24 named Flying Cloud - ok, I struggled with getting over the life lines until Evelyn explained the scientific way to not get hung up! - we jumped right into EVERYTHING. We had to rig the boat, learning the nomenclature as we went along. The test was the next day for our American Sailing Association BASIC SAILING certification.
Out into the harbor we motored - the tide, current and size of the marina necessitate this. And there we were, with no wind - until a bit later. But we chatted and went over everything and returned to the dock for lunch. As a sidebar, I must recommend the newly opened food court at Brookfield Place. The choices are fantastic and there's a beautiful harbor view. You can also sit in the small park below or around the marina.
Back out into the fray around 2:00 we sailed to the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and marveled at the incredible coastline from a totally new perspective. 18 knots, some good waves and a group of about 20 outrigger canoe teams paddling towards the Verranzano Bridge. Gutsy!
We tacked, we jibed, we practiced "man overboard" with a life preserver and docked at 6PM to de-rig the boat until we returned the next morning.
9AM Sunday and back on the boat. We were all friends by now and the morning was devoted to navigating the river traffic and serious class review: Luff, clew, tack, leech, head. Tying knots, and then it was 2:00 and time to take the test. Which we all passed, thanks to Andy! A rum and tonic from the school, a small ceremony on the dock with medal presentations and we were off.
But not before the exchange of emails and hearty hugs. This is a great way to spend a weekend on the water, make friends and decide which class to sign up for next!