Monday, April 10, 2006


My name is Tillerman and I am a sailaholic.

It all started when I was in my early 30s and on vacation with my wife on the Spanish island of Menorca. Up until then I had been dry and sober, but in the more relaxed atmosphere of Menorca someone offered me a chance to go for a sail and I gave in to temptation. Oh, I thought I was so smart, that I could just try it once. But don't let anyone tell you that one sail won't get you hooked. That's all it took with me.

My wife tried sailing too but she had the sense to give it up once she saw where it might lead. Not me. My memory of the rest of the holiday is a blur. I was out sailing every moment I could. I abandoned my poor wife at the hotel and tried every form and flavor of sailing that was available at the resort. I would end up every evening totally wasted but next morning I would be back out there again desperate for another fix.

I am sure my wife thought I would shake the habit once we returned home but by then it was too late. I joined a club where I could indulge with other sailors and every weekend we would be out there getting merry with no thought for the long term consequences.

What I am most ashamed of is that, because of me, my kids also picked up the sailing habit. Maybe they had a genetic propensity, I don't know. But it can't have been healthy for them growing up in an environment where Dad spent every weekend yielding to his addiction.

My eldest son was hit the hardest. At college he became a binge sailor. Every day after lectures he would go out with his buddies and sail when they should have been studying. I blame the administration of the college. Far from discouraging under-age sailing they even had someone on staff who facilitated the kids in their sailing sprees, a so-called "coach". I had hoped that after college, with the responsibilities of a young family, my son would be able to stay dry. But recently he has started to show those tell-tale signs ... reading sailing magazines, checking out the sailing blogs, hanging out at West Marine ... I think it's only a matter of time before he falls off the wagon and on to a boat. I fear he may be a sailaholic too.

Here is the worst part. I am not just a social sailor, someone content to enjoy an occasional cruise with a few friends. No, I am a hard core solitary sailor. I know that sailing alone is the real sign of a sailaholic but I just can't help myself. Almost every Sunday I will go out and sail by myself on my Laser until I am totally zonked. I know I will pay for it on Monday -- that morning after feeling, the mother of all hangovers. But the following Sunday I will go off by myself and find my pleasures in the bottom of a boat once again. I've had this disease for 25 years now and don't know if I will ever find a cure.

My name is Tillerman and I am a sailaholic.


Tim Coleman said...

Hi, I'm Tim and I am also a sailaholic...! Unfortunately I haven't had a fix for at least two weeks and I'm getting withdrawal symptoms.
I'm trying to cope by reading books about sailing, browsing the website for pictures of racing, reading blogs etc but it's not really working.
If I don't go sailing soon I'm afraid I will lose my mind... Wait...I think that's already happend, so my wife says anyway.

Anonymous said...


There's a good 24-step program for Sailaholics up here in Boston. If you would like the name and number of the program, I'd be happy to send it to you.

I would warn you that the program is a non-profit and financed entirely by Step Six of clients, which is signing your sailboat over to them.

As a member of this organization, I am trying to help my fellow sailors be cured of this terrible addiction.

If the program is still of interest to you or any of your readers, I'd be happy to assist you in getting help.




Pat said...

Me too ... but Carol Anne has it worse now, so now I have to work her habit, plus mine, plus our son's. Do you have any idea of the devastating financial and time impact of having to support multiple sailing addictions (MSA's)? I too am in withdrawal; I haven't sailed since yesterday morning. And, that was only a two-hour break from working on boats to get a local newspaper reporter out to take pictures of our club's Spring Series 3 regatta.

Tim Coleman said...

I got a fix today!
To hell with work, The sun is out, the wind is gentle and the tide is in... a winning combination if ever there was one.

My daughter and I got about 45 mins before the sun started to wane and what little warmth there was vanished. But it was really good to be out on real waves once again.
Now I'm counting off the days to the next opportunity.

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