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Going clubbing

By By Nicholas Upton

Boating in an urban area is tricky, even someplace with as fantastic lakes and waterfronts as Minneapolis.  I’ve always, somehow, found an outlet. A cheap canoe off Craigslist; a shared set of kayaks with a friend; rentals and monthly trips to a lakefront cabin have always kept me on the water.

But I wanted to try my hand at sailing, and that’s even trickier.  A slip on an urban lake is no small expense, not to mention the price of a lake-worthy boat.  The interminable Minnesota winters add the issue of storage and towing – not something my miniscule Honda is prepared for.

So when I heard about the Twin Cities Sailing Club, I was eager to sign up. The popularity meant I had to wait a while, and wake up far too early to mash the refresh button on my browser until the signup form was available.  I managed to get in, and paid my dues (less than half the cost of a private slip).

I was enthusiastic to say the least; I even bought a pair of smart new boat shoes with all the money I saved.

The club has a really smart setup. You sail with experienced skippers until you’ve completed a long list of training requirements, then you have to abide by “the deal:” free access to the club boats as long as you help train new sailors a couple times a month.

When I showed up to my first meeting, I half expected a troop of Kennedy clones with big white teeth and dapper sweaters. Instead (for better or worse) I found a whole group of people just like me – sunscreen slathered urban professionals just excited to be on the water.

My first outing was a great experience, my very patient skipper let me refresh my skills with limited hand holding even though I could sense his distress when I heeled dangerously for my limited skills.

I made a good dent in my path toward being a skipper myself thanks to a little prior knowledge of sailing. But boy do I have to learn the terms – apparently “Duck!” is not sufficient warning when tacking.

I hope to write more about the club as I continue through the process, so stay tuned.




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