31 May 2011

Come Sail Away to Nantucket

Come Sail Away to Nantucket

There is nothing like a few hundred colorful sails dancing across the sun kissed Atlantic Ocean to put you in the mood for summer.  It might not be mid-June yet, but summer officially got underway in Nantucket this past weekend with the 40th Annual FIGAWI Race.  The great thing about this race is it doesn’t discriminate.  Big boats, small boats, fast boats, slow boats, sailboats and power boats – all are welcome!  The serious racers engage their competitive spirits while other boating enthusiasts welcome the opportunity to be out on the open water.  The race always draws a huge crowd of exuberant spectators.

Several years ago I sat on a blanket near the Brant Point Lighthouse with my 2 youngest kids and watched as the first sailboats entered the channel.  Excited onlookers whooped and hollered, applauded and waved as the winning boat sailed by.  We watched expectantly for “our team” to arrive (my husband and 2 of his buddies on our 26 ft cutter-rigged sloop).  This was his first (and last I might add) FIGAWI race and we were certain he would arrive with some of the early racers.  He had actually called us from his cell phone at 10:00 a.m. that morning to announce he was in FIRST place!  We were so proud.  He didn’t finish first, but did arrive with the first dozen or so boats and all aboard were proudly waving and smiling as they rounded Brant Point.  I should have realized something was amiss when the other early boats were all sleek, new racing boats.  We loved our Destinie, but she wasn’t ever sleek and was beginning to show her age at almost 20 years old.  Turns out there was an OFFICIAL starting time for the race (imagine that!)  Captain Dan and his crew were apparently oblivious to this fact and pulled up anchor and set sail from Hyannis at sun up…so by 10:00 a.m. he really was in first place.  No harm done – the official winner and runners-up received their trophies (Captain Dan got a high five from his kids for giving it the old college try) and a good time was had by all.

That’s the great thing about Nantucket – whether you are a novice boat owner or a seasoned sailor – there are a number of ways you can enjoy the water.  If you missed FIGAWI, you can join the fun in August for the official “Race Week” or the Nantucket Opera House Cup.  If you love being on the water, but are not completely comfortable at the helm – you can take classes at the Nantucket Community Sailing School.  In her younger days, my daughter spent 3 summers learning all the ins and outs of sailing with NCS.  They even taught her how to right a capsized daysailer and she got pretty good at it.  The experience boosted her confidence in boat handling and helped foster an already innate love for the water.  And the classes aren’t just for kids.  Several of my girlfriends joined together and took some lessons last summer.  It was great social time and they all reported gaining real enthusiasm for the sport.

Whether you love to captain or crew a boat yourself or simply enjoy sitting on a blanket on the seashore watching the boats glide by, begin planning now to come join the thousands of Nantucket residents and visitors alike who will embrace many boating opportunities this summer and come sail away to Nantucket

Welcome aboard!

Shellie Dunlap


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