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A Family’s First Sailing Charter AKA

“The Griswolds Go Sailing” By Sally Weigand


We wondered about the name of our charter boat.


850-434-1770 103 Myrick St. Pensacola, FL 32505 44 August 2009


truggling under the weight of duffle bags and food boxes, we paused on the dock excitedly eyeing the sleek shape of our chartered sailboat. “Look at the name,” our oldest daughter gasped. Pilot Error glared up at us in bold black letters. Was it an omen? Our first charter would reveal the answer. My husband and I had recently completed a charter course on the Chesapeake, and all in the family sailed a little Sunfish on a lake. We considered ourselves prepared. The option of two courses existed when we raised anchor in Miami Beach. We chose the ocean route, which was error #1. Unknown to us, many buoys were renumbered, but not all. We never did locate the ship channel, and a large wave crashed over the deck and cascaded down the open front hatch, thoroughly soaking the mattress. Never again did we forget to close all hatches before getting under way. “What does it matter that we can’t find the channel? Let’s see how responsive this boat is under sail,” we agreed. After raising the mainsail and jib, we inched along at the snail’s pace of one knot. In addition, three of the five on board became seasick from the wave action so the decision was unanimous to try the Biscayne Bay route. An immediate reversal in direction eventually brought Pilot Error back to the marina from which we had so confidently left early that morning. The unsuspecting marina staff thought they had seen the last of us for five days, but in we pulled to eat lunch and regroup. With stomachs fortified and no waves beneath the hull, our spirits lifted. Off to the bay and points south. For an idyllic afternoon, the boat glided effortlessly through the blue water while the sun warmed our Northern bodies. Before sundown, we eased into a tranquil, protected cove surrounded by woods. The setting sun bathed the scene with its golden warmth and edged the clouds with pink and lavender, bringing the day to a perfect close. Unfortunately, the following day did not continue on this high note. Menacing gray clouds hung heavy in the sky, but that did not deter. Off we went to make up for lost time. No sooner did we reach the bay than thunder boomed and the heavens opened. On went slickers and rain gear and back into the safe harbor we headed. Before even dropping anchor, we changed our minds, deciding to continue sailing. A 360-degree turn headed the boat back out for the open water. Nothing was going to interfere with our adventure.