The Block Island Times

Sailor's first sail

By J. V. Houlihan, Jr. | Aug 01, 2013
Photo by: J.V. Houlihan, Jr. Sailor, feeling a bit queasy

As Captain Donny Rooney was backing the Islander out of her downtown Newport slip to head south to Block Island, I, along with our Cackapoo Sailor, was heading out to Castle Hill for his first sail–ever. As we followed the Islander out of Newport Harbor, Sailor the clingy, neeeeedy Cockapoo, sat on my lap. Needless to say this made steering the boat very difficult, as Sailor comfortably wedged himself between the captain and the wheel. I must mention here that this guy is a lap dog. A change would be needed as soon as we got out into the bay.

      Captain Donny Rooney left the harbor, headed south, and then he put the spurs to the Islander and off she went on the quick to Block Island. After watching carefully for traffic entering and leaving Newport Harbor, I figured out what to do with Sailor. There was 15 to 18 kts of SE wind, so flying half of my headsail would get me going an easy 6 kts. So, I simply tied Sailor to the mainsheet blocks, sat him on a boat cushion, and then proceeded–after releasing the headsail–at a fast clip out toward Castle Hill lighthouse. It was a great sailing day; however, I think Sailor would beg to differ. He didn't look so good. He had an expression on his face I'd never seen. When he yawned he had a Cujo thing going on; scary stuff!  He was on the cusp of total distress. We pressed on, ya know, all for the life of the rolling sea, yada yada yada. Actually, this was looking more like animal cruelty.

      Being the prudent sailor that I am–I didn't want to burn this guy out–led me to head back into the bay once we passed south of Castle Hill. There was some good fetch from the SE wind, and it was best to peel off on a broad reach, and flatten the boat out for my crew who was appearing more bizarre by the moment. We were now zipping along with a fair wind and tide toward the Pell Bridge. Still, Sailor looked baffled and emotionally bludgeoned by the experience of sailing forward, but looking aft. As he looked at me, he seemed to be saying, "what the hell, dad, enough, dontchathink!!!"

       Back at our mooring Sailor was back on his A game after a few "ataboys" and treats. He lived up to his name − Sailor. My wife tends to think that he really isn't wild about the sailboat. I disagree, he just needs practice. When the Old Port launch came to bring us ashore, Sailor leapt–usually he drops to the deck and must be lifted–right into the boat; impressive, manly stuff–ya know, sailor stuff. So let's look at this as a cup-half-full thing. Sailor didn't whine nor did he projectile vomit all over the cockpit. So maybe he looked a little scary, and had psycho eyes for a moment but, he manned up and did the drill lashed to the mainsheet. Today he earned his name, Sailor!


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