Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Dinghies vs Others
I have started crewing on a Farr 30 which is a great boat, but I come home sometimes reflecting on the experience. Admittedly, part of my reflections are due to being a novice and trying to learn how to do bowman duties and feeling pretty clumsy about it all. But, even so, I often come back to the same basic question - are keelboats really sailboats?
Of course they are under any definition you care to come up with, but I can't avoid the feeling that dinghy sailing is so much more - something. There is a visceral difference between keelboats and dinghies.
In dinghies you are constantly up close and personal with sailing. You are closer to the water and wind and your body is an integral part of controlling the boat. I would never say you are really in control all the time because that would really be tempting the wind gods who know better, but let's just say that your physical presence is so much more directly integrated into the process.
On a keelboat, you have plenty to learn and think about but there are long stretches where, after a particular maneuver you go sit on the weather rail and have a nice chat with another member of the crew. When the skipper decides to bear away and pop the kite, there is a bit of concentrated fussing about and with any luck it goes up untwisted with the head and clews in the right places and opens up beautifully. Then all quiet for a while until a gybe comes to befuddle the new bowman. I managed to do one thanks to an experienced hand talking the me through every little step and we avoided catastrophe.
I enjoy sailing keelboats and appreciate the social/team aspect very much - and, of course, there is so much to learn about the boat and trim. But I just can't help feeling there is something more basic and authentic about dinghies.