This Charmed Life

I spent both days of this past sunny, warm weekend on a 36′ Sabre powerboat. In theory, I was part of the race management team for the Laser Atlantic Coast Championship: The beautiful Twenty Summers was the finish boat, and I was the event scorer. But I mostly just enjoyed being where I was. Lasers are nearly 14′ long, one-handed boats that are becoming more popular because they are affordable and portable. Most Laser sailors throw a boat on top of their car and drive to wherever the next event is being held. We had teams from Quebec and Halifax that trailered their boats down to Marblehead for the regatta.

There were 86 registered participants, broken into two classes, full rig and radial. The difference is in the size of the sail (radials are smaller, with a slightly smaller mast). The radials are designed for light sailors, and are the choice for women. Men favor the full rig; in fact there were no women competing in the full rig division.

The fact that I know all this—and how to score a regatta—is almost unbelievable to me.  My arms are bruised from the pinching myself.

I grew up in Hyde Park, a very blue collar neighborhood, the southernmost neighborhood in the City of Boston. I did not grow up sailing. I first heard of Marblehead from The Preppy Handbook, that 80s bible of all things preppy, which had listed Maddie’s Sail Loft as a great place to meet guys. The handbook failed to mention that Maddies’ regulars were mostly alcoholic fisherman. But somehow, through kismet, karma, or blind luck, I married a wonderful man from Marblehead (who I met in Washington DC) and moved here nearly 16 years ago.  I know now that the Sail Loft was formerly a real sail loft, the place where sails are cut and stitched.

I once heard a quote, for which I cannot find attribution, “a sailboat is the only man-made thing to improve on nature.” I quite agree. I am anxious for our own sailboat to be in the water, ready to go on a soon-to-be summer evening. But until then, Twenty Summers will do in a pinch.

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