by CHRISTOPHER GILL
Nearly every weekend, I make it a point to get out for a sail. By myself or with others, I always enjoy time at the helm of my own boat. It’s comfortable and easy. When I was younger, I used to sail on lots of other people’s boats (from Lightnings to J/35s to big cruisy things) and the experience of learning about new boats and meeting new people was a big part of what I loved about sailing. But, as I got older, I’d met a lot of people and sailed on lots of boats, so my boating schedule became simple – sail on my own boat when I wanted, with whom I wanted…comfortable and easy.
Once I’d settled into my own rhythm, I realized that I was perhaps limiting my experiences. There was little diversity in my sailing and frankly, I was beginning to get a little bored with my ‘routine.’
I recently came across a quote from The Art of Living author, Wilferd Peterson, that I am rather fond of. It reads: “A man practices the art of adventure when he breaks the chain of routine and renews his life through reading new books, traveling to new places, making new friends, taking up new hobbies and adopting new viewpoints.” It’s not overly deep, complicated or witty; rather it simply affirms what we already know. So, a few weeks ago I was invited to go sailing on a class of boat that I’d always admired from afar but never set foot aboard, and with a skipper that I’d never met. A chance to break from the chain of routine!
The Atlantic was first launched in 1928, with its Class Association started the following year. Today, fleets are currently active at Cold Spring Harbor Beach Club in Cold Spring Harbor, NY, Cedar Point Yacht Club in Westport, CT, Madison Beach Club in Madison, CT, Niantic Bay Yacht Club in Niantic, CT, and Kollegewidgwok Yacht Club in Blue Hill, ME. I’m told the class is enjoying resurgence here in the Northeast – and why not? Who doesn’t love a classic design that’s as fun to sail as it is beautiful to behold?
The regional group of Atlantic sailors is a tight-knit bunch. They’ve been sailing their boats for a long, long time and have a passion for them akin to that of vintage car owners. Malcolm Robinson is no different. He purchased his boat, Excalibur, in 1989 and proceeded to provide the love and care the boat needed. Excalibur is sailed out of Cedar Point Yacht Club. CPYC is a great racing venue and I was delighted to bump into some old friends who I’d sailed with, or against, in the past.
CPYC is truly a sailor’s club. I was introduced to Malcolm, the Atlantic Class and Excalibur by Julia Knowlton, a friend with whom I’d sailed in the Vineyard Race a few years prior. I was pleased to discover that Malcolm is a gracious and inviting owner. The fourth crew on the boat was Malcolm’s good friend and long-time crew, Jeff Norris, whose lighthearted demeanor immediately set the tone for a great day of sailing.
I had never really considered sailing in benign conditions on a vintage boat a mere five miles away from my house as holding the potential for ‘adventure,’ but in breaking from my routine, I made new friends, connected with old ones and enjoyed adding another class to my list of favorite boats. Maybe the next time I sail with Malcolm it will be a wild and windy ride, befitting the traditional notion of the word, but until then, I am happy with the brand of adventure I experienced.
I hope you’ll get the chance to sail on a boat you’ve always appreciated. Accept that offer to crew for new people and experience the fun of sailing outside your comfort zone. Have an adventure.
See you on the water.