As this is a new blog, some of my first posts will try to explain who I am, where I come from, and how I got caught up in this whole sailing thing.
I grew up in Philadelphia.
Sailing was something we read about in books. Very old books. I could say it was something other people did, but in a city of two million people, I knew exactly no one who ever went sailing.
I knew what a dingy optimist was, but not an Optimist dinghy.
We shot some hoops. We'd swat a tennis ball around the public courts with some old, wooden racquets for a while, sporting our finest tennis blue jeans. We played cards and went to the Wayne Avenue Playhouse - the closest thing we had to an Arte Cinema, where we'd watch Fellini and W.C. Fields and the Marx Brothers.
You knew the Wayne Avenue Playhouse was cool because it was most famous for a single empty coke bottle that went rattling down the concrete floor, kicked about by willing patrons like a mophead in a mosh pit, providing a vaguely musical accompaniment to whatever was flickering up on the faded, tattered screen.
But at no time, ever, under any circumstances, was there even a passing reference to sailing.
We had a few rivers. On one of those, some crusty, ivy-covered fellows went rowing. But sailing? Huh? Suggesting that we go sailing on a nice, Saturday afternoon would have been like calling up your dudes to go panning for gold.
So, it's been very late in my life that I've become aware of sailboats, of the fact that real people can actually own them and sail them, and of youth sailing programs. Damn, I wish I could have done that when I was a kid.
Because the very first time I was on a sailing dinghy, I got this little smile in my belly. This was more fun than you were supposed to be able to have on the cheap. I mean this thing didn't have any motor, you didn't have to put gas in it, you just had to work the ropes and the steering and you were off.
If you're reading sailing blogs, you probably already know what I'm talking about. You probably already know that little smile in the belly. What the heck is that, anyway?
I like riding a bike. A lot. I've taken whole vacations on a bike. To Europe. Up and over the alps. I can get into a special frame of mind on a bike that is magic in its own way.
Holding a nice cadence on a warm, spring day, along the narrow road that's chiseled into the cliff high above Lake Maggiore's sparkling waters, while the Fiat and Peugeot drivers tap out greetings with their horns as they swing past, a tasty lunch of penne al salmone waiting for you at a lakeside trattoria ahead, can be very cool indeed.
Ah, but it's not like sailing.
I'd like to explore that little smile in the belly as this blog unfolds. I'm going to find out what that is if it's the last thing I do. But I'll probably need some help from you to figure it all out.
Do you have a smile in the belly?