I learned to sail as a teenager at camp. We sailed on charming, pleasant Lake Bantam in Connecticut. So much to see! There were water lilies and other water flora, beautiful lake homes, interesting birds, and waterfronts of other camps and campsites. Sometimes there wasn’t much wind and we’d do our best tacking – moving back and forth to catch the upwind in the sails. Other days, the wind was perfect – just the right pressure and speed – and we’d sail blissfully around the lake and over to the other side. Then there were “those days” – strong winds, large waves, and gray skies. We sailed on those days as well and got great work outs doing whatever it took to keep our boats upright.

When the winds really kicked up and the sky turned from gray to light black, the counselors would round us up and instruct us to head to shore. “Storm’s coming – get to shore fast.” We adeptly (and gratefully) caught the winds at the right point in the sails, sometimes heeling the boat, and arrived at the shore safely. Raindrops greeted us as we moored the boats and headed for the boathouse – the only structure on our waterfront. We waited there through the storm.

In recent weeks, I was back sailing those rough waters. The wind kicked up; the white-crested waves were all around me caused my boat to bounce uncomfortably through the water. I couldn’t control the sails well enough to catch the wind at the right time. I didn’t want to capsize. Remembering how we used to signal for help during those camp sails, I set up the warning sign for assistance.

A couple of friends came aboard. One nimbly took hold of the jib line and the other agilely commandeered the mainsail line. I steered the rudder and tiller – and together we guided the boat to shore. In the nick of time! We got to the boathouse as the storm hit full force. Together we heard the heavy rain, the piercing thunder, and watched the jagged lightening illuminate the sky. It was quite a show!

While we watched, we exchanged stories of other storms; how we’d managed; how we’d learned from the experiences. Maybe next time, we’ll head to shore earlier. More important, maybe next time we’ll sail together instead of in separate boats. Sailing with others fosters camaraderie, cultivates friendships, and it’s certainly more fun than the solo sailing.

This storm has passed. The sky is blue with a bright yellow sun. I’m ready to venture out again into the lake. Only this time, I’m taking a crew along. Although the lake is calm right now, I know a storm can kick up at any time. And I want to be properly equipped with buddies who can help me adeptly sail the boat when we hit rough waters.

Have you gathered your crew for your next sailing trip?

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