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« Back Post Date: Thursday, November 02, 2017, 2:00 PM
A Junior Sailor's Sea Story: We Laugh to Keep from Capsizing
On the first day of sixth grade, StFYC summer camp sailor Nicholas Huberty received a writing assignment: “Tell us about your summer.” Nicolas recounted a day of sailing on the Bay that did not end the way he’d hoped it would.
On the first day of sixth grade, StFYC Summer Sailing Camper Nicholas Huberty was assigned to write an essay about his summer. He chose to write about sailing on San Francisco Bay.

It was a beautiful, somewhat cloudy day on the San Francisco Bay. You could hear the churning of the fickle waves, some tame, some harsh as a wild rhinoceros. The dark, deep water contentedly amused itself with the thought that it was the controller of our success today. The city, in its language of brushing wind and occasional honks, just wanted to say that it was the city, and that we shouldn’t forget it. Yup, it was a good day for sailing, maybe a tinge too windy in places, maybe a bit too subtle in others. It really didn’t matter, the event that happened, happened, and what an event it was.

The wind persistently, but unsteadily, beat at our faces. The boat kicked spray around vigorously. The constant pound of the waves against our 420’s sturdy hull created a quiet humming slosh with frequent crescendos and diminuendos. The sound was lulling. It almost could have put me to sleep right then and there, but the pulse of the sun on my skin was more than enough to keep me wide awake and ready.

As we headed out past the gull-populated wave breaker that served as a gargantuan shield for the skinny yacht club harbor, the swells grew to be larger and larger, the wind grew more powerful, but with a tiller and a mainsheet, we could control the both of these features relatively easily.

I had only sailed a couple of times with the other person in my boat, so he was almost a complete stranger. So we talked, but not often.

“Hey, what’s your name again?” He said.

I told him, then waited a bit before saying…

“And your name is…?”

“Spencer,” he responded.

“Did they say windward leeward windward leeward home, or windward leeward windward home?” He asked.

“Uh, door number one I think.”

“What does that mean?” Spencer questioned

“Windward leeward windward leeward home.”


Even when the conversation had died out, it wasn’t silent. We felt the thump of higher waves, the sun, the wind, the rapping of the sail as we tacked, and the swoosh of the boom as we gybed. All at once, these sounds stopped, then picked up again in a massive fluttering of noise. The port side of the boat started to lift, up and up and up. It lingered there for a moment, and I was sure the vessel would flip.

Normally, when the boat capsizes, I drop down into the dark navy blue water, then I ask if my partner is okay. Next, I, if my partner is not already there, swim to the other side of the boat, grab onto the daggerboard, and push down with all my might. I then laugh after it is done. I laugh because it is funny. I laugh because I don’t really have anything else to do.

This time, instead of fully capsizing, the boat kept on sailing with the mast exactly parallel to the water. I was catapulted out of the boat, and it kept going. Still, I laughed. I made a joke of it all. It’s so much easier to laugh at something than to cry; if I managed to laugh at an event that large, then I think that a lot of other things wouldn’t be too hard to laugh at either.  

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