How We Learned to Sail Our First boat, Coromandel!
How We Learned to Sail Our First
I lived a mile from Lake Erie in Painesville
OH. And was always taught to be afraid of
the water. But I loved the fog horn
there at the lighthouse.
This is the story Bill tells: Newly married,
we had just moved into a townhouse in
Brook Park OH and didn't have a clothes
washer/dryer yet. So we are at the
laundromat and Bill is bored so walks next
door where there is a boat dealer.
Displayed on the floor was an MFG
Pintail 12 sailboat. He got in it and they
made him get right back out - you can't do
that unless the boat is supported by
chocks and off the ground a bit. Anyway,
the more the salesman talked, the more
fascinated Bill became. He came to get
me. And we went to the bank on down the
street and financed a boat. We are both
We had never sailed. On Bill's first day off
work he, Mike and I take Coromandel!
(Yes, I gave her that big name - I was
reading a book by John Masters named
Coromandel!* at the time.) to the mouth
of Grand River where it enters Lake Erie.
And we did everything wrong.
We cut off all the fishing lines of the guys
fishing on the pier, because we didn't
have a clue how to sail and came too close
to them. No brakes on that boat! When
we got ready to go home we just ran her
right up on shore with a wind power
boost and buried her nose in the sand.
Back home, we did what we always did
when we wanted to learn something new,
albeit a bit late this time. Off to our local
library with access to the big public library
downtown Cleveland. Did we ever learn
Then we trailered the boat to Pymatuning
Lake to learn how to sail properly.
Bill took the Coast Guard Navigation
Course. Son, Mike, and I took the U.S.
Power Squadron Navigation Course. Bill
got a certificate. The Power Squadron
wouldn't give me one...I was a woman,
not entitled. At that time women
traditionally were only auxiliary members;
Their husbands the real members. I was
scandalized and verbal. Weeks later they
relented and I told them I wouldn't be a
None of this affected our new love of
messing about in small boats. First there
was 12' Coromandel!, then 24 ' Wind
Song, both on Lake Erie. Then the 30'
Snow Goose, onward to the Caribbean,
sailing and living aboard her for over
seven years. Here in WV for the small
mountain lakes, Bill built Loon, 12'.
We sold Coromandel! when we left
Cleveland aboard Snow Goose. And
always wished we had kept her.
*Coromandel! by John Masters (1955) - A
17th century English lad runs away to sea,
ends up in India.