Tuesday, August 03, 2010


Laser sailors have feelings.

Esteemed blogger O Docker published a typical wise and eloquent post yesterday in which he compared the merits Of Big Boats and Little Boats.


Big boat - big enough to sleep on and to drink distilled and fermented spirits on after sailing.

Little boat - one sail, one tiller, one sheet - feeling better - better feel.

He concludes, "For my wife and me there will be more days of feeling things in the little boat. I think that's really what little boats are all about."

Feeling things?


Sailing a Laser is all about feeling things.

Yesterday I went for a sail on the Sakonnet River off Fogland Point in my little boat, my Laser. The wind was a steady southerly at 13-16 knots, enough to stir up a few whitecaps and generate some juicy rolling waves.

I concentrated on feeling things.

Upwind I was feeling the pressure of the deck on my calves and my thighs as I experimented with how hard I could hike. How does it feel with knees slightly bent, or locked straight? With toes pointing up, or out straight? What's the difference in feel when I tighten the outhaul a tad and crack off a couple more degrees? How does the speed feel if I work through the waves with a lot of upper body movement, or a quieter style?

Downwind I was feeling the pressure on my tiller hand when sailing at different angles of heel. Where is the sweet spot when the helm goes neutral? How does it feel to sit further forward, further back, to move forward and back as I go over the waves? How does the tension in the sheet feel as I bear off to sailing more and more by the lee?

Sailing little boats is all about feelings. I am pretty sure that feel is the secret to boat speed. I hope it is.

Before I went sailing yesterday I was feeling shitty. My younger son came to see us three weeks ago and confessed that he had what he called "walking pneumonia." Whatever it was, I caught it. Tillerwoman caught it. We both felt like shit. I call it The Man Cold. I didn't run for two weeks. I didn't sail for two weeks. I hadn't seen my grandchildren for three weeks. I felt miserable. I felt sorry for myself.

At the weekend I thought I was feeling better. Then on Monday, I felt worse. On Tuesday I felt even worser.

I thought to myself, "F*** it. I might as well go sailing. It couldn't make me feel any worse. Kill or cure."

So I went sailing. Concentrated on feeling good things in the boat, instead of the bad feelings in my head and my chest.

Last night I felt even more like shit.

Today I feel a lot better. Thank you for asking. This evening I will go sailing again. Tomorrow I will go and see my grandkids.

Is Laser sailing the cure for The Man Cold? Probably not, although perhaps the Sakonnet River salt water nasal sprays helped clear my sinuses. But I'm pretty sure that Laser sailing is a cure for feeling sorry for myself.

It's all about feelings.

Laser sailors, "Have feelings!"


Anonymous said...

If ya wants ta sail on a 1972 Ranger 33 in Wednesday's MOHOOSA Worlds on Mt. Hope Bay. Be at Swansea Marina's gas dock before four thirty. We might could use some expert tactioning and rail meat ;)

Dave Harrold
S/V Selah
(faithful reader of proper course)

Anonymous said...

I get a feeling of accomplishment when I sail a distance race on a keel boat, it's exausting, sometimes wet, a little risky, somehow gratifing. When I sail the Laser it's all fun.

O Docker said...

I'm sorry you're not feeling better, although feeling things better in your little boat seems to have helped.

I'm sure you will feel better, little by little, and that you will feel things a little better if you keep feeling the little things.

We tend to belittle the little things for little reason, although little boats let us feel the little things better.

Seeing the little ones should make you feel better.

More than just a little.

Antolin said...

it feels like you are close to getting your jade hiking stick knob

Doc Häagen-Dazs said...

You got it nailed, Till!

Small boats = all feel, zero engines, zero instruments.

Tillerman said...

Thanks for the invite Dave but I won't be able to make the Wednesday Night Worlds this year. We are at our grandkids' house today and won't be back in time to meet you.

Anonymous said...

Dave Harrold August 4 at 12:41pm
Hi Tillerman,
There are four more of our regular Wednesday night races this year then there are six Saturday races which leave the dock at noon-o-clock. ;)
The races actually start at 1:30, but we need to be early for practice on the way out. Saturday Sept. 11 is Selah's turn at being Committee Boat. Let me know which fits your schedule and I will plan accordingly ;)

S/V Selah
SIRA/Tiverton "B" Fleet

Anonymous said...

I too have GRANDKIDS and must agree that they trump all else including sailing : )

S/V Selah

Baydog said...


Pat said...

Feels like feeling with feeling!

"In more recent years "Feelings" has been best known as a target of parody and ridicule for embodying what are perceived by many as the most insipid lyrical and musical qualities of 1970s "soft rock" music."

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