How to get back into sailing after the long Canadian winter?
I often muse about what interests people. When I was young I had very little interest in learning Spanish. I had very little interest in learning any language. I'm sure there's more people like me out there. However, more recently I developed a desire to improve my Spanish. This is because I have been working and traveling in hispanic countries. My experience had served to shape my interest. That's why I want to talk a little about getting back into sailing after the cold winter. In Canada it's impossible to do anything to maintain your skills. I don't think I need to describe the conditions here in Toronto, let's just say they reduce my desire to enter into any water sport. Believe it or not there are people who surf and kitesurf regularly during the winter months in Toronto. So, the options that exist are to: a/ go somewhere warm and rent a boat OR b/ get frostbite. Option a is not impossible. Many sailors go to Florida in the winter to improve their sailing. Renting a boat is not always easy though so I'm going to talk about option c.
To just maintain my skills I believe two things that will sounds blindingly simple. During the season go sailing regularly AND extend your season beyond just June and July. Here's what to do.
- Start sailing in May and finish as late as possible (December 1st). Meaning no sailing for only 5 months. In 2015 many people were able to sail in right up to January 1st. You'll need a good wetsuit, warm top, rain jacket and wetsuit boots. My estimate is that $250 to $350 should get you the clothing you need. You can probably repurpose a rain jacket and polyester fleece. Just buy a good wetsuit and boots. I have wetsuits that have lasted 6 years and I expect they'll go another 6 because I have looked after them well.
- Go sailing once per week for the entire season. I think that the best thing to do is to sign up for a course with a friend, then become a member with that friend. If this isn't an option I am more than willing to help find you a current Sailing Fanatics member to buddy up with. Regular sailing will reinforce your skills, knowledge and understanding. I sailed once if not twice every week for 12 months of the year for 5 years. I don't think I will ever forget how to sail. Switch crew and helm then practice the skills you know: tacks, gybes, docking, crew overboard. Practice does, at the end of the day, make perfect or at least help reinforce skills so they are harder to forget!