July unfurls its sails as National Learn to Sail Month, an opportune time to commemorate the timeless tradition of passing down the art of exploring the vast seas. While pinpointing the exact inception of sailboats remains elusive due to their ancient origins, the rich history spanning millennia bears witness to the enduring allure of seafaring. In the modern age, the vibrant global community of sailors continues to grow, breathing new life into this age-old passion.
Here at Leopard Catamarans, we had the pleasure of witnessing one of our own set forth on an inspiring quest this month in collaboration with our esteemed partners at Offshore Sailing School in St. Petersburg, Florida. Aboard the remarkable Leopard 45 sailing catamaran, she embarked on a journey to acquire her US Sailing license. As we toast to National Learn to Sail Month, what better way to celebrate than by sharing the wisdom she gained along her voyage.
What were your expectations entering Offshore's Fast Track to Catamaran Cruising course?
My heart swelled with excitement as I anticipated a week filled with adventure, yet I knew it would come with a fair share of uncharted challenges. Being a novice sailor and having witnessed even the most experienced sailors discuss the intricacies of this sport left me feeling daunted.
Why did you choose to learn to sail?
Beyond my professional ties to the sailing industry, my soul has always been drawn to the water. With cherished memories of multiple charters in the Mediterranean and Caribbean, the urge to captain my own yacht one day lingered on my bucket list for quite some time.
Describe the experience of learning on a Leopard 45
While I had encountered this catamaran on various charters and boat shows before, it felt like I was meeting her for the first time. Understanding this vessel's intricate layout and thoughtful design granted me newfound clarity. Witnessing what true sailors seek at the helm instilled in me a profound appreciation for Leopard.
What was the highlight of your course?
The pinnacle of my journey arrived on the final day when our instructor entrusted us to take the boat out for a 24-hour solo adventure. Guided by favorable winds reaching up to 10 knots, we felt the thrill of independence. As the day culminated with our successful final exams, I felt an overwhelming reassurance of my capability to sail independently – an indescribable sense of accomplishment.
Were there any challenges you had to surmount?
Most certainly! Docking a vessel of this size can be intimidating, particularly with onlookers and the relentless sun in a windless marina. However, through rigorous practice, I developed an affinity for both the right-handed and left-handed propellers on the catamaran. By the course's end, I navigated the dock with newfound confidence.
How does it feel now to have earned your US Sailing License?
A profound sense of pride envelops me as I realize the transformation of my dream into reality. I eagerly await the countless sailing adventures ahead, embracing the untold wonders that the future holds.
What advice would you give to those considering learning to sail?
Embrace the initial challenges that may seem daunting to beginners, for once you find yourself at the helm, with sails perfectly trimmed, gliding through the water powered solely by the wind, the call of the sea will only grow stronger.
As July concludes, remember that sailing schools welcome aspiring sailors all year round. At Offshore Sailing School, you'll find courses tailored to all levels and aspirations, offered in six distinct destinations, transforming the world into your greatest classroom.
So, should sailing be a fleeting daydream or a timeless pursuit on your bucket list, ponder the words of Mary Oliver: "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" Chart your course, take the helm, and set sail!