23 Aug 2011

Nantucket Race Week…

Nantucket race week

Nantucket is awash with beautiful scenery in the summertime. Virtually everywhere you turn there are “Kodak moments” to behold. One of my favorite summer scenes is the harbor brimming with boats of all shapes, sizes and design. It’s so serene to watch some glide through the jetties on a cloudless afternoon and others bob on their moorings as they obediently turn into the wind.

This past week was Nantucket race week, so there were an inordinate number of sleek vessels gracing the boat basin. Sunday was the Opera House Cup Regatta, kicked off by one of the highlights of the day – the classic parade of Nantucket’s Rainbow fleet around Brant Point. The brilliant colored sails danced along the shoreline as the water lapped against the sides of the boats. Watching the scene unfold from the beach was like watching an artists brush sweep across a canvas. Nantucket days are like that…you sometimes feel as though you are part of an animated work of art.

Sailing in general is its own style of artistry. Each boat unique in its design, constructed of beautiful wood or stark fiberglass, outfitted with a variety of rigging and sail configurations and any number of gadgets and gizmos to help ensure it sashays across the water with ease. Captain and crew (even a small crew of 1 or 2) make the sailing event look like a dance…every motion in sync, gracefully and artfully manipulating the vessel with full knowledge the wind has the final say.

I’ve been both a passenger and a crew member on a sailboat. As a passenger, experiencing the lull of the motion, the sparkling beauty of the open water and the sound of the splashing waves, I find complete peace. As a crew member…well, not so much.

My husband is a seasoned sailor, having spent 2 years post-college sailing the waters off the east coast and Bahamas. 15 years ago, when we purchased our first boat together (a 26 foot cutter rig sloop), it was his fondest wish that I would come to share his passion for sailing and quickly become an accomplished First Mate. I’m a fairly quick study, but prefer to be methodical and detailed in tackling new endeavors. So imagine my wide eyes and racing heart the first time the 2 of us climbed aboard Destinie for our inaugural “2 man” sail. It was trial by fire. I was unprepared for the necessary rapid fire commands that commenced from the helm the moment we cast off the mooring line. “Hoist the main, raise the jib, watch the boom, cleat off the main sheet, prepare to come about!” Huh?? Which one is the main and what’s a sheet? Needless to say I looked a bit like Lucille Ball in a candy factory and there were a few dozen knots in the lines before we finally got everything shipshape and were able to enjoy our maiden voyage. It’s a good thing the Captain had patience.

Ultimately, I graduated from Sailing 101 after many stressful sessions on the open water and eventually became a pretty good First Mate (yes, I now know where the main is). There is just nothing better than experiencing the beauty of Nantucket Island from the deck of a sailboat. You can travel all along Coatue, all the way to Great Point and back. The island takes on a whole new persona when viewed from offshore. Before the summer draws to a close, why not schedule some time to sail the waters around Nantucket? Crew your own craft or one of a friend, rent a boat or charter an excursion.

Set sail.

Shellie Dunlap

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