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The wind was steady, my new Tacktick compass was in and I just installed it onto my dinghy mast.  I was ready.  It was a little too cold for shorts but I was determined to wear them.  I donned my iceboating nationals sweatshirt and checked my phone one last time.  Nothing.  Paul, who usually crews for me had a softball championship game that day and I wasn't sure when it was going to be done.  Looks like he wasn't going to make it today.  It was then that I decided to head out alone.

I usually don't like sailing the windmill class boat alone.  I can, but on race days my mindset changes and the relaxed atmosphere when sailing alone disappears.  I frankly just don't have enough water time to race that boat alone.  Joy sail?  Yes.  Race... No.

As I head back to the boat I noticed one of our older (older than I) club members looking around also.  Seems as if his crew bailed on him also.  He sails a Flying Scot and they way his boat is set up you need to have two people to race.  I offered up my services and that's how I became crew aboard a boat I knew nothing about.

The Flying Scot was roomy and much more comfortable than my windmill.  His sails were old, but the rigging was all in the right spots and well thought out.  I brought my dive slate (I use it to write down compass headings and find them easier to use than writing on the deck) but noticed the boat lacked a compass.  Put the slate away because today we're going old school.

I became part jib man and part tactician.  I loved every minute of it.  A few times I was worried I might be over stepping my bounds as I mentioned when and where I thought we should tack.  Hopefully Bill didn't mind.  Many times I told him it was his boat and he tell me what to do but he seemed happy to get the feedback.

Running the jib, I kept a careful eye on the tell tales and made sure I let him know if we were getting a header or if we started to pinch a little too high.  My terminology is still poor and I many times apologized for the screw ups.  For at least two years, two non-sailors (Paul and I) were yelling at each other to pull the color coded line.  We've learned the names of the lines now (cunningham, outhaul, etc), but in those two years we called a "header" a gust of wind that "headed us up".  Hey, it made sense to us.  I may know the correct term but when instinct takes over you blurt out what you are most familiar with, even if it's wrong.  Similar to my old 1968 Triumph Bonneville.  She shifter is on the  right side as opposed to the left.  It's fine when you think about it, but when a car pulls out or you take a sharp turn you find yourself doing the opposite of wheat you expected.

Heck, we even got to try one of my starts where we cut the middle of the start line on starboard and hit it full speed.  We took off, lee-bowed another boat and couldn't be caught (at least the first leg).  Our boat that day was too slow downwind and we had a kite to fly but since I've only done it once before and Bill wasn't up to giving it a go with a rookie, we just flew wing on wing and hoped for the best.

Down wind is where I'm the worst anyhow.  At least that's what I've learned over the years.

By the end of the day we had come in fourth in all three races.  I had far more fun than I have sailing in a while.  Not sure if it was just the change of scenery, position, or both.  The last time I crewed (and was completely green at racing), I felt out of place.  I didn't know the difference between leeward and windward then.  I couldn't tell you which buoy was the jibe mark.  Watching the guys on the boat say "lifter" or "header" while looking at the wind seemed more like witchcraft than sailing.  Years later, now that I have a bit more experience under my belt (if only just enough), being crew on a boat had a lot more importance and meaning.  Where once before I felt as if I was just dead weight as I had to be told and then shown what to do, this time I felt like I was part of the boat.

So for all you boat owners out there, if you haven't crewed in a while it's probably time to give it a try again.  I guarantee that you'll see things in a whole new light.


I had to come up with a new name for my racing dinghy.

It's a windmill class sail boat and I bought it on a whim.  I already owned a 26' Tanzer floating on Lake Winnipesaukee in NH and thought I already knew all about sailing.  An avid iceboater, I traveled to where the good ice was forming or could already be found.  One year, Lake Massabesic in Manchester had all the good ice.  It was there that I ran into other avid sailors who convinced me to join their yacht club on that lake (Massabesic Yacht Club).

I did join, and it was there I purchased the Windmill.  I then headed out to race.  It was there and then I found out that my sailing skills were poor to adequate at best.  Sure I could sail, if you could call what I was doing sailing.  I could make the boat go, but I couldn't keep up with the other racers.  They knew something I didn't.

As I spend the next few years learning what I thought I already knew, it dawned on me that the boat needed a new name.  We (Paul - my racing crew member) and I, changed the boat's name from 'Pastime' to 'Slightly Crewed'.  To match and precisely convey who was in that boat

Along with that boat, the larger sailboat, iceboats, and other antics, we hope to chronicle most of the adventures here.  So follow long as we try to spend more time dry than wet.