Last week I took three days off and went sailing with my son, Zoey. We sailed out of Chelsea Piers which is a subsidiary location for Off-Shore Sailing School that has its main center locally at Liberty Landing Marina in Jersey City. We had another student with us, Alex, a 28-year-old fellow who was on vacation for a month while changing jobs from lawyering to investment banking. It was his first time on a sailboat. Zoey has sailed a bit over the years, with my Dad in bygone days on the Sailstar Conquest in Barnegat Bay and more recently he’s raced with my sister on her Tartan 37. I’ve been sailing since I was a kid and enjoyed being on the water and seeing the new technology–well, new to me anyway–on the Colgate 26 we sailed. Our instructor, Barbara, was a gem. At least she let me tell my sailing stories while making sure I paid enough attention to stay out of the way of the many barges and ferries and oh, by the way, Dennis Conner, skipper of the Stars & Stripes.
The course comes with two fine texts, but for me, H.A. Callahan’s classic, Learning to Sail, from the 1930’s (“The Jazz Age” as one Amazon reviewer described it), will always be the best introduction to sailing. Spare, literate prose and the personal sentimentality of now having my Dad’s copy in my nightstand makes it the must have standard text, my sister has the companion, Learning to Race, both now available in paperback.