“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do…

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain (1835-1910)

Chester “Trip” Buckenmaier III, MD,
COL (ret.), MC, USA

Pam, our friends Karon and Toni, and I had been looking forward to a week sailing our Gemini 105Mc catamaran, Family Knot, exploring the Chesapeake Bay.  We left on a Saturday with the idea of cruising overnight to see how far south on the Bay we could get before leisurely sailing back again, visiting points of interest along the way.

  Sailing overnight in the Chesapeake is tricky, for unlike open-ocean sailing, there is much on the Bay to avoid, and the added element of darkness complicates the equation.  Hazards range from poorly marked shoals, unlit buoys and fish-traps, fluky weather, and the constant threat of massive cargo ships that ply this active commercial corridor. Yes, as a sailboat we have the right of way, but one does not argue with a 200-ton cargo ship that can neither slow nor turn to allow for a pleasant conclusion to the seagoing altercation.

A Bay sailor can avoid or minimize all of these headaches by sticking to day sailing in pleasant conditions. There is much to be said in favor of the day sailing approach.  Wear and expensive repairs are markedly reduced by not subjecting the boat to weather extremes. Crew stress is almost non-existent, and the day ends with the boat back safely in a familiar dock in time for dinner and drinks. 

While I am a proponent and practitioner of this approach to sailing, admittedly you never really get anywhere beyond the waters surrounding your homeport. I do not get the same sense of satisfaction in my skills as a sailor, my ability to move the boat and crew safely from destination to destination regardless of the conditions, as I do when we set out to new locations over the horizon.

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