Sailing in NYC
During the warmer months of the year, spring to fall, I can see sailboats going back and forth on the sparkling water from my office window. They look so idyllic and peaceful, and I'm very fortunate to have such a picturesque view while I'm going about my work. I also find, however, that seeing sailboats gliding under the glistening sun all day is a special torture, there to constantly remind me that I'm going to miss another gorgeous day whilst indoors, not breathing in fresh air and feeling that warm sun on my face. And I ask myself, "Who are these people who get to sail around all the time? And more importantly, how can I become one of them, given my limitations (like, having to work for a living and not owning a sailboat)?"
I was mentioning my desire to sail to a friend's boyfriend at a party this spring (aka the beginning of sail-envy season), and it turned out that he's an avid sailor! Go figure. He told me about a nonprofit organization in Queens that teaches sailing, called TASCA.
TASCA was founded in 1967 to promote recreational and sport sailing. Members are allowed to take boats out on Fresh Meadow Lake, free of charge, whenever the dock is open, and they hold races on weekends, open to all members. It's entirely volunteer-run, which helps make it affordable (membership is $55 a year), and is very geared towards the beginning sailor. You really feel that these people love sailing, and they really want you to love sailing, too. Simply put, they are super friendly and helpful. I've just finished their basic sailing course, and I think that this is a group that I'd be happy to get into.
In order to join TASCA, you have to first take their beginning sailing course, which consists of six three-hour on-the-water lessons and two lectures. You have to pass a knots test, written test (multiple-choice), rigging/de-rigging test, and sailing test—all of which sounds pretty intimidating. But again, they want you to pass because they want you to get into sailing (safely), so you're allowed to take the tests multiple times and they go over your errors with you.
Random highlights from my course:
Seeing a mama duck and her tiny ducklings swimming behind her on my first day, right by the dock.
Crashing into both moored boats and also a dock, without judgement or reprimand…and still passing the class.
Listening to the salsa music played by the large gathering of people who came to the lake every week to party and socialize.
Gaining an additional sense of self-confidence from having a new skill set.
Getting to be that person gliding along the water in a sailboat, feeling the breeze and warm sun.