Life Aboard

Perspective of a New Sailor

The article was written by Sea|mester student Sadie Dainko, as seen in Sea|mester’s publication The Telltale

One of the most intimidating experiences of Sea|mester so far has been the task of sailing a 112-foot schooner with no experience.

As someone who grew up in the Chicago area, I have never once sailed a boat or even had much experience with sea life. Like most beginners, I experienced, and am still experiencing, a bit of seasickness. I like to accept seasickness as a form of bonding by kneeling over the side of the boat next to a fellow shipmate going through the same thing. It’s one of those experiences where you can look over and have that “you know what’s up” feeling with another person. During nighttime seasickness, I actually feel comforted by the sight of bioluminescence from plankton lighting up the ocean a few feet from my face.

The act of sailing, however, has been challenging. Learning new terms such as main staysail or tack, and learning the difference between a halyard and downhaul, has been a long process. At first, I was completely overwhelmed and thought that I would never master the art of sailing. A staff member would tell me to ease a reefing line and I’d stand there with the doe-in-the-headlights look.

I think I’ve said the phrase “So, where is that?” or “What does it do?” about three dozen times. Although I still doubt that I can actually “master” sailing, I’ve become much more comfortable and aware of the different sails and lines, as well as how they work together.

It’s a really satisfying feeling to be able to look at my fellow shipmates and see all that we’ve learned. Learning how to sail a ship with absolutely no prior knowledge and actually becoming comfortable with it is something that I have never experienced. At the end of these 90 days, we will look back and see all that we have gained and learned and feel a sense of accomplishment for the wonderful journey that we have all taken part in.