Old Town Crier

The Summer Sailstice: Free and Open to the Whole World

The Summer Sailstice
Free and Open to the Whole World
by Molly Winans

The whole world is invited. It’s free.

I have written about my beau’s serious sailing addiction before. The man has a problem. It’s not even summer yet, and he went sailing four times last week. Yes, in case you’re wondering, he does have a job. He commutes from Annapolis to Arlington, VA, three days per week and still managed to go sailing four times last week, two evenings and two afternoons. Given his addiction, my editing the sailing magazine SpinSheet, our proximity to the water, and the ease with which he throws off his lines, friends assume that sailing just happens for us.

What envious friends do not see are the unromantic hours we spend rearranging the puzzle pieces of our lives and plotting out sailing days on a shared Google calendar. Two professionals with the usual sailing barriers—commuting, family complications, work that flows into the weekend—couldn’t possibly go cruising for 10 weekends in a season without serious advanced planning.

Many cruisers, racers, and daysailors, who love sailing with all their hearts, are lucky to make it out on the water one entire weekend this season. The many masts you see at port on the sunniest, breeziest weekends prove it. Our frantic, over-scheduled, smart-phone-buzzy lives get in the way of sailing.

Frustrated with this phenomenon, John Arndt of the mother of all regional sailing rags, Latitude 38, in San Francisco, CA, decided to do something about it and unite all types of sailors—from the reservoir sailors of Nebraska, to the offshore racers of New England, to the windsurfers of Oregon, to the gunkholing cruisers of the Chesapeake Bay.

“It takes an event on the calendar to remind people to make the time for sailing,” he says. He created the Summer Sailstice, a global event, set for the Saturday and Sunday nearest to the summer solstice, June 21. The whole world is invited. It’s free.

If you sign up on summersailstice.com and go sailing June 23 and/or 24, you also qualify for prizes: a free charter week in the British Virgin Islands, a Hobie inflatable kayak, an adventure catamaran sail, winches, sailing shoes, a lifejacket, and a bunch of neat swag. Sailors may also enter contests, such as the best sunset photo or story, largest number of boats at a Sailstice event, largest crew, longest distance sailed, and largest fish caught.

The Sailstice should appeal to loners, racers, and flotilla lovers alike; it doesn’t matter if you sail in a group, by yourself on a Sunfish, or with your best friend in a quiet creek. Maybe you don’t sail and don’t know anyone who does, so you choose to find a fully captained boat, such as Annapolis’s Schooner Woodwind or DC Sail’s American Spirit. All you have to do is block off one day, June 23 or 24, and go sailing.

A few years ago, we attempted to participate in Shearwater Sailing Club’s Twilight Race off Annapolis. The wind had other plans for us and died at the start. All but one participating crew rolled up its sails and motored for shore. We heard the chatter on the radio: “Catalina 27 fleet meet at Davis’ Pub… See you J/105 sailors at the Boatyard Bar & Grill.” My sailing addict had to chime in and announce, “We’re going to drink and drift.” And we did. We swam, told stories, killed some rum and ginger beer, caught the slightest of breezes for a short while, and savored a stunning sunset.

Arndt appreciated my happy drifter story. He says, “We’re all so digitized these days, we don’t know how to be in the moment. This event gives us a chance to reconnect and be in the moment… and feel like sailors together.” Click to summersailstice.com to sign up for one day only. June 23 or 24. I’m in. Are you?