How a couple learned to sail >> Scuttlebutt Sailing News

Natalie Wages from Northern California reminds us how powerful the power of suggestion can be:


One day my husband Matt and I are going to sail around the world. Or at least that’s what we’ve been saying since July 4 of last year, when he was inspired after reading the Adrift book.

This is the story of the only man known to have survived alone at sea for more than a month (76 days to be exact). It doesn’t matter that his boat sank. When Matt closed the book at our favorite campsite in the Sierra, he said, “We should buy a boat!”

We have always been people of the land. The people of the hinterland. The van trip was everything. But by the end of that weekend, we were sailing around the world and devoting five years to it. We decided it would be like camping, but at sea.

We’ve been on sailboats before – you know, the sexy catamarans that cruise the bay at sunset while you sip champagne on the trampoline – but we’d never sailed one ourselves. We spent the next year reading other people’s travelogues around the world, learning how to make tiki drinks (when we’re in Rome!), and mapping out our dream routes.

When my husband seriously suggested selling our house in Oakland to buy a boat, I had to save time, so I offered sailing lessons. What if we don’t like sailing?

After exchanging a few emails with Wayne Zittel, owner of the Alameda-based J/World performance sailing school, I was more convinced than ever that sailors hold the keys to the good life: he divides his time between California and Mexico (J/World also has locations in San Diego and Puerto Vallarta). Ranked among the top sailing schools in the United States, J/World offers several certification programs, including bareboat cruising and coastal sailing.

We signed up for the Basic Keelboat Course, a four-day series that would take place over two consecutive weekends. We would learn to “responsibly eat and crew a simple day keelboat in familiar waters, in light to moderate wind and sea conditions”. We arrive the first day to meet our instructor, Austin, not yet thirty in flip-flops who learned to sail on his own at the age of six and lives or not in a converted ambulance. We already love this sailor. – Full report

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