Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Young Sailor's Story

Following is a story, in her own words, of a young woman's adventure in her family's Iain Oughtred dory, Lively. Holli is obviously smitten by boating, and up to the challenges. Immediately following the squall she describes, she rowed the boat about two miles back to the dock. I was so impressed by her skills, I captured her rowing technique in the video below, for your viewing pleasure.

The Power of the Wind

I struggled to hold onto the jib. The sails flapped and jerked, trying to escape. I gritted my teeth and pulled again. If only I could tie the lines to the cleat hitch attached to the mast, and not send Lively, and her occupants, into the water. How did I get into this predicament? Well, the easiest place to start, by far, is the beginning…
My dad and mom took my sister and I to Twanoh State Park, for the Traditional Small Craft Association’s (TSCA) Oyster Messabout. While we waited for Dad to rig up Lively, our handcrafted wooden sailing dory, we talked to the others in the area, scouted out the area, found shells in the area, and assisted him.
After a half an hour or so, my dad, my sister, and I loaded in, and Lively is set afloat. My mom decided to stay behind and catch up on some reading. The cool, crisp breeze and to plop, plop of Dad and I’s oars hitting the water was a perfect, calm prologue to the rather wild, exciting sail we are about to undertake. After awhile, however, it began to rain.
You can imagine my excitement when Dad had me help raise the sails, placing me in full command of the jib. As he pulls on the main and sprit halyards, I pull up the jib. Suddenly, the wind grabs the sails and off we go!
I struggled to hold onto the jib. The sails flapped and jerked, trying to escape. I gritted my teeth and pulled again. If only I could tie the lines to the cleat hitch attached to the mast, and not send Lively, and her occupants, into the water. I tugged on lines again, bracing myself. I’ll have rope burns for a week! After one final pull, I managed to hook the cleat, tying it off. Before I knew it, we were heeling at a very dangerous angle, but that only gave me more pleasure.
Suddenly, we hit a strong and very wet squall; a sudden powerful gust of wind with a front of rain. We heeled so far we took in water, more shocking us then doing much harm. Over the din of rain slapping the deck, water lapping over the sides, and startled squeals, Dad commanded me to take in the jib. Having rehearsed the exact maneuver on land, I swiftly did so, and then helped him reef the sails. When Dad and I controlled our assigned sails, my sister acted as coxswain. Though when we hit the squall, my sister was released of her duties, and she settled down on the bottom of the dangerously tilting boat as ballast. Soon though, due to the part of Dad’s splendid captaining and the fact the wind decided to give us a break, we soon righted ourselves and continued to shoot back and forth across the southern part of Hood Canal.
The wind blows in my face and water sprays my back as we go faster, faster, and faster still. The speed was so exhilarating, the choppy water so enchanting, the air so fresh and clean; not to mention cold, salty , and wet; nothing could ruin my perfect mood. I was so proud of Lively. Pity I couldn’t hear what the people on shore had to say.
The wind quit suddenly on us and it began to rain again. By now, everyone was hungry so we rowed back into the boat launch. We greeted the TSCA members and my mom as the boat reached the dock. I hopped out as plans were made. We were going to have lunch in the covered area and conversationalize. As I met and talked to some very nice people, my mind continually strayed back out onto the water. What a pleasure it was! One of the times my whole family will always remember in years to come.

By Holli Welcker
Age Thirteen

  Holli at the Oars from doryman on Vimeo.

Keep up the good work, Holli. You go, girl!
Thank you very much, for this fabulous story.

Holli's dad has this to say about the family boat:

" Lively is a dory, in the Swampscott style.  The designer, Iain Oughtred, calls the design "John Dory".

"We use Lively for both sailing and rowing.  This past summer was more heavily concentrated on rowing, training the "crew" to row double for competition.  We entered the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival rowing race and managed to finish the long course when half the fleet dropped out.  Holli and I rowed double while Franci cox'd.  It was lots of fun."

Best regards from the Lively crew:
Kent Welcker
Holli Welcker
Franci Welcker
and Lori too!

Watch for the Welcker family on the waters of the Salish Sea.


Baydog said...

So well written for a thirteen year-old, or someone 53! Beautiful skiff.

doryman said...

Yes, Dave,
In an age when academics seem to be taking a death march and apathy is the new sport for teens, it's refreshing to see a young person working hard to improve her life experience.

Anonymous said...

Sweet boat, sweet times!

Thank you Doryman, for sharing this delightful narrative and video peek with us.

Holli, keep writing. You have lots to say and a wonderful "voice". We were able to be in those moments with you. Well done indeed! Keep sailing too! Grow up, choose fulfilling life works, have a family and kids if you want, explore, experience, but keep sailing, and cherish the relationship you have with your dad. Thank you for letting us come along.

I'm now a grandmother, and own my dad's boat. Grew up sailing, but let other things squeeze out fulfilling days on the water. Didn't sail for 30 years. A real regret now. I lost much. Madly trying to recover a bit, but it will never replace what's gone.

Great times in store for you, Holli. May fair winds and following seas always be with you.