How Sailing Can Save the World

Published on August 18th, 2015

by John Arndt
I am always puzzled when I encounter concern about the cost of sailing. As the world becomes increasingly urbanized and technical, I get more concerned about the cost of not sailing.

You can ‘follow’ the Volvo Ocean Race and the America’s Cup, and you can ‘watch’ the virtual wind and ‘see’ the ocean currents, but is that the same as having your hand on the tiller as you try to get around a ledge with an adverse current and fading breeze? No, the only way to understand sailing, and gain an appreciation and respect for our waters, is to actually be on them, and cost needn’t be a hurdle.

Three years ago, my brother bought a Hobie 16 with sails and a trailer for $500 (what’s your cell and cable costs/month?). When my brother and I were sailing it last summer, it started sinking after we flipped it. We hopped a tow from a passing lobster boat, got the boat to shore so we could drain it, and then sailed it back to where we could goop up the holes. Great stories followed!

This year it was my nephew’s turn who sunk the boat when a new leak occurred. But he got the boat back, and later dug out the long crack in the hull deck joint, mixed up some epoxy and relaunched. For those in New England this week, Tuesday was a rainy, nasty day, and he and a friend launched again in big breeze to rip around the bay. What a riot!

Finding a leak, mixing epoxy, launching and rigging a Hobie and sailing in a rain storm … all character and confidence building stuff.

In an era where people are cultivated to lust after image-defining stuff like cars and homes, sailing can look positively cheap. Then when you account for the stories, experiences, and thrills generated by sailing, its value becomes priceless. And who knows, if our fitness and sanity improved by time on the water, we might even reduce the cost of health care.

With Craigslist filled with affordable boats like the Hobie, the cost of sailing is a good investment. I know my nephew and friend will be lusting for a new Hobie long before a new kitchen appliance, making for an important trend to strengthen the marine industry.

Maybe sailing can save the world. Bringing families together, overcoming obstacles with solutions, and connecting with our environment… all the time giggling and memory-making. Can a body-idling iPad do that?


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