chicago corinthian yacht club
Lake Michigan, Chicago
Fairly early in the evening I stopped counting the boats that dropped out due to the lack of any perceivable progress. The race is definitely not the story here, especially since we stunk. We might’ve come in last. I don’t know. At some point I gave up concentrating on the other boats all together.
It wasn’t even one of those nights where you could rise above the failure and enjoy the skyline, the sunset, or the motion of the boat cutting through the water. The boat just seemed to sit on the water, ridiculously far from the clubhouse. It was one of those mid-summer hazy nights, after a really long day, when you might—although you’d never admit it—rather be somewhere other than on a sailboat.
I sailed with a married couple with a one-year-old baby. They kept telling each other better ways to achieve everything, including better ways to achieve telling each other everything. I’m not a good enough sailor to trim the jib, call out compass headings, find the mark, and perfect the arrangement of the spinnaker pole, all the while blocking out the domestic tension.
They are friends of mine, but there was one point when I considered swimming for shore. Come to think of it, we may still have been in the harbor. Maybe I should have.
That would’ve saved me from the embarrassment and pain of getting tossed to the deck when the towline snapped taught on the way out of the racecourse.
We were on the water almost three hours. The finish was anticlimactic. Even so, the committee boat signaled our time with a blast of the air horn. We had sailed the course. We had finished the race.
Well after the lights at Wrigley Field had come on, we made it back to the mouth of Montrose Harbor. We bagged the sails and put the boat on its trailer. Late as it was, we still found an hour to relax and recap at the club’s aluminum picnic tables. We sat down with beers and heaping plates of food. The babysitter appeared with a joyous, sleepy child. We had a great chat, breathing smoke and the night sky, right there under the Perseid Meteor Shower and Corinthian YC’s inveterate black maple.