Sailing School is Fun (Finally!)
Sailing School is Fun (Finally!)
Despite my own love of sailing, I’ve never had much luck getting my kids (11 and 8) interested in sailing school. Sure, they’ll come sail with me (if I beg, threaten, or plead, depending on the circumstances--it’s enough to make me fantasize about Burwicking them). But it has been clear that an affinity for sailing, and a desire to learn how to sail, hadn’t quite displaced their modern inclinations toward Percy Jackson books, Minecraft, Dragonvale, and Instagram. I didn’t sweat it too much because they get plenty of exposure to the sport, and I figured it would either take or it wouldn’t. But, clearly, whatever I was trying--mainly taking them on weekend cruises, with some daysailing thrown in-- wasn’t quite doing the trick.
This is what I have to offer ...
Luckily, this summer--mostly, because they wanted to do what the other kids were doing--they finally gave sailing school a shot. It was a slightly exotic sailing school, being located in the pretty village of Glandore on the southwest coast of Ireland (we make semi-annual pilgrimmages to Glandore during the summer because it’s hard to pass up cool, rainy, weather, the Irish landscape, and real Guinness draft). But my patience was rewarded. They liked it. The Glandore Harbour Yacht Club Sailing School delivered. My kids say they want to do it again. They seem to have brought their enthusiasm for sailing back across the Atlantic. And in a world that is always trying to figure out how to get kids interested in sailing, I am now trying to figure out why.
I have to start with the fact that Glandore harbour has always been an excellent place to sail, which is one reason that cruising icon Don Street lives in Glandore (another is that he married a sweet Irish lass), and can often be seen roaming the pier, Heineken in hand, or rowing out to his Dragon for a little evening racing (Warren Brown Jr., of the War Baby (ex-Tenacious) Browns, is also a local). It is beautiful, there is usually wind, and the harbor is nicely protected yet full of interesting geographical hazards and landmarks. It didn’t hurt that this summer featured more sun than anyone can remember.
Dragons racing in Glandore.
Then there is the lure that in Glandore, if you want to get to know and hang out with other kids, you go to sailing school. It used to be that most of the kids who sailed were summer visitors from the U.K., the U.S., and elsewhere, with many of the Irish kids going in for rowing. But over the years the GHYC and its sailing school has grown leaps and bounds (this year they inaugurated a new clubhouse), and now sailing seems to be the preferred option for kids from everywhere.
During the busy season, the school has some 85 or more kids in the various levels, which run from “Taste Of Sailing" up through “Go Racing” and “Adventure.” The day starts at 10, with everyone gathering at the pier, and finishes at 5. The kids are out on the water in most weather, and parents have an extra incentive to have kids in sailing school because it gives them lots of free time to go do their own sailing, walking, biking, or hanging out in pubs.
Enrolling the kids in sailing school was just the first step. I then had the pleasure (and relief) of seeing them really enjoy it. And that is because it was, well, fun. Apart from messing around on boats (Toppers, Topazes, and Visions), spending lots of time capsizing them and arguing about who would get the “dry cap,” they spent a lot of time jumping off the pier, and enjoying hot fries and hot chocolate from the Marine Bar after school wrapped up for the day.