Sailing Rehab

Sailing is addictive. It must be. What un-addicted human would subject themselves to it?

There is a rush when the boat heels to gust and pressure comes on the helm. There is a rush when the spinnaker fills with a ‘whump’ and the boat accelerates. It must be something like the rush from injecting heroin.  I can’t say for sure because I haven’t tried that.  Sailing is my drug.

Addicts will spend hours in pouring rain, huddled in semi-waterproof overalls and hooded jackets, in vain hope of a breath of wind.  Racing addicts will sleep in damp bunks and take night watches steering into waves they can’t see until buckets of cold salty water hit them in the face. All in the quest for that elusive rush.

Cruising sailors will spend sleepless nights listening to the grumbling anchor chain dragging across a rocky bottom.  They will motor for endless hours in windless fog, dodging logs and crab pots.  All in hopes of fair wind and sunshine.  They will accept a wet bunk when a large power boat thoughtlessly sends its wake over the bow. Who left the forehatch open?

Further side effects are a depleted wallet, a constant search for fuel and water, and don’t even get me started on holding tanks.

Even sailors who recognize the discomforts somehow imagine they can be cured with a bigger boat. The dreaded two-foot-itis sets in. This way leads to madness!

Enough I say. Addicts need rehab! Quitting cold turkey seldom works. A few weeks after selling the boat, withdrawal sets in. Symptoms include late nights trolling the internet for a bigger better boat, attending boat shows and strolling marina docks. In extreme cases the addict may buy another boat before the old one is sold.

I propose the Sailing addiction rehab center. It will be a 6-week program costing the subject $18,000 plus repairs, moorage, insurance and fuel.

For the first 3 weeks the program will provide a CC (competent crew).
Week one will be spent cruising on a comfortable 40 foot Beneteau less than 10 years old.  The fridge works and the beer is cold. CC is a good cook and the meals are fine.   On day two a 20 knot wind will arrive providing the exciting rush of great sailing. For about 5 minutes. Then the genoa tears leaving scraps flapping wildly in the breeze. The wrestle it down and put up the small jib, at which point the wind dies for the week. On day 3 the holding tank will overflow and the subject will have to clean up the mess. The rest of the week will feature various minor mishaps and on the last day the battery will die and they will have to be towed home.

Week two will move to a 20-year-old Catalina 36. It will have a few leaks and of course the weather will be wet. The anchor windlass will be manual and prone to chain jumping. The fridge will be weak and the beer tepid.  The usual cruising mishaps will occur.

Week 3 will feature a 30-year-old Hunter 30 with no fridge or windlass. The smaller engine can be hand started so no worries about a dead battery. Ironically with no fridge the battery lasts fine. But the bilge needs pumping every 2 hours and the electric pump is dead. The gusher works okay but requires a good arm.

On week 4 CC is replaced by IC (incompetent crew). The boat is an ancient Columbia 26 with a British Seagull outboard.  No wheel, no fridge, no autopilot.  Also, no sleep due to thin cushions on hard bunks and an undersized anchor that keeps dragging.

Week 5 is spent in an ancient wood 20-foot canoe yawl. It is a thing of beauty, but IC can’t figure out the belaying pins. Dinner is a can of beans heated on a coal stove.  The tiny cramped cabin has stooping headroom and the leaky decks keep the bunks wet. There is no motor, but it sculls along at about 2 knots with only modest effort. The kerosene lights cast a cheery but smelly glow. No holding tank but someone must empty the bucket.

Week 6 is spent in a luxury penthouse overlooking Vancouver Harbour.  The 80″ flat screen tv gets 500 channels and the sound system is amazingly accurate.  Golf and tennis lessons are arranged by the concierge and a personal trainer sets up an exercise program. There is cold beer in the fridge, but Dom Perignon is also available. Room service is available, but a variety of great restaurants are just a short walk away.

Graduation is held at the top of Grouse Mountain where a party of friends and family participate in welcoming the recovered addict back to real life.

Not ready to quit? Have a look at Your Boat Stuff.