A Guest Blog Post by Elizabeth Sweeney
Andrew, a single father of three Community Sailing of Colorado scholarship recipients, remarked how school, sports, TV, video games, and parents’ jobs divide valuable family time. In turn, he thinks it’s easy for families to lose a sense of purpose that holds them together. For this family, sailing provides their sense of purpose.
When someone who knew Andrew had chartered a 36’ monohull in his twenties suggested that his children attend a sailing camp at Boulder Reservoir, he applied for scholarships for three of his kids. Last summer these three kids attended sailing camp. They took to the water like natural sailors. Maybe it’s in their genes.
The six-year-old son was in Little Puffs’ Camp. He loved being out on a big keelboat with an instructor and eight others his age. By the end of his second session, he knew all the parts of a boat and was itching to team sail a skiff with the older kids. The 10-year-old son hopes to avoid summer school in 2023 because he’d rather be on the water. His instructor agrees. He suggested they think about training to be a Junior Instructor. Setting goals like this one increased his confidence and his sense of worth.
A client of Andrew’s offered him a 1990 18’ Hobie Cat that needed some care, so he immediately said yes. The boat was stored in a field not far from Union Reservoir in Longmont. If Andrew and his family wanted to fix it up and sail it, the boat was theirs. It took little to make the boat seaworthy. The hardest part wasn’t hauling the boat to the lake, but setting up the mast. Without the funds for a slip of their own, the family hauled the boat out of the water, put it on the trailer, and drove it back to the field.
The Hobie Cat was a gift to the family. The hour spent rigging the boat and setting the mast was an hour together. Aboard, the kids took turns steering, letting out the jib and the mainsail, and watching the wind. Andrew laughed, “the family that capsizes and rights the boat is a team.”
Inspired by Sailing Zatara’s mission to live aboard and sail as a family with each member as crew on a catamaran, Andrew sees how sailing can be a lifestyle that supports families. The impact of being on the water and relying on one another helped him and his children circumnavigate the death of their grandmother, the fallout from a bitter divorce, an ongoing custody battle, and financial hardships from restarting a family business.
Living landlocked in Boulder with financial challenges, currently prevents them from sailing on the ocean. However, Andrew keeps dreaming of buying a sailboat, relocating to Florida, and sailing the world’s oceans. If he could, he’d reserve an extra berth for someone who hasn’t ever felt the waves and the wind on the water.
He wonders how many parents would like to sail with their kids. What if there was a sailing class for families? He’d like to race because he’d learn more about sailing. He’s truly grateful for Community Sailing of Colorado and gives back to the organization with his professional signs and decals. His resilience is clearly passed onto his children. “Distractions are temporary. Positive goal setting is something for life.”