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Love and the Snipe Dinghy

Published on May 25th, 2022

At 58 years of age, noted Dutch offshore sailor Bouwe Bekking has seen a lot and done a lot yet, having taken part in eight Whitbread/Volvo Ocean Races. But when asked to choose the coolest and most innovative yacht, Bekking had a sweet spot for the 91-year old Snipe dinghy.

However, Bekking is not alone for his passion of this 15-footer as Will Apold shares:

While working a summer job in a French fry plant in between engineering semesters, I met a lovely country girl. I grew up on the Nova Scotia coast and thought that I could impress her by my sailing abilities.

So on a sunny afternoon in September, I borrowed a friend’s Snipe to take her for a sail. I thought that the Snipe would be perfect as it would just be the two of us and we would sit close to each other as we sailed along Halifax’s sheltered Bedford Basin.

Saturday arrived and we shoved off from Bedford Basin Yacht Club at about 1300. The wind was a comfortable 8 knots, and everything was going as planned. I conducted some sailing instructions on how she could help to tack and gybe, which is pretty simple on a Snipe. Then exactly at 1400, the sea breeze filled in!

The wind immediately shot up to 20 knots. Snipes are fine in a breeze but they require all the crew to move their weight outboard. However, my country girl decided that the safest place was the mast. She immediately clasped her legs around the mast and hung on yelling, ”Jesus Christ take me home!”

Things were off plan, and while I tried to convince her that she should join me on the rail as this would flatten the boat and get us safely home, she stayed at the mast repeating her demands.

It took some time and a number of singlehanded tacks, but we ultimately returned back at the yacht club. She immediately departed the Snipe, leaving me to de-rig the boat. It was a tough start but it has all ended fine.

We have just celebrated our 50th anniversary and have enjoyed many years of great sailing adventures…it all started with the Snipe!

Comment: The Snipe has a bit of history as a matchmaker, and it was in 1986 when Lisa Manzer agreed to crew for me in a San Diego event. We just celebrated our 32nd wedding anniversary! – Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt

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