Boat Sailing Course on Big Lake, Mount Vernon

Boat Sailing



I once took a sailing boat course in Mount Vernon, Washington. I have always been terrified of deep water, especially if I cannot see what might be lurking under the surface. So, I was quite proud of myself for finding the courage to risk myself to horrible monsters that might be living in Big Lake.

I worked in the Business Office of the local college. I was on the Classified Staff Committee which is a liaison between staff, faculty and the public. My responsibility on the committee was to publish our newsletter each week. Current events was a big portion of the newsletter and I kept everyone informed on what was going on.

One summer the sailing boat course was offered and I encouraged everyone who could to sign up. Big Lake is set in a beautiful location in a woodlands area. The college owns some land there, with a building for classes pertaining to water sports. They own docking piers and several sailing boats. There is also a kitchen in the building. I was successful in getting several people to sign up for sailing. A lot of my coworkers said they would sign up if I did. Fear swept over me and I thought about it very carefully. I talked to the instructor, whom I fully trusted, and told him about my fear of deep water. He assured me there were no monsters in the lake, no piranhas, no freaky things floating around, and he said it is mandatory everyone wear a life jacket. He really had high hopes this new class would be successful. He also told me he would be on the lake each time we went out sailing. With great courage from I knew not where, I signed up.

The first two classes were easy and enjoyable. We stayed inside the building and learned all the proper terms of boats and sailing. The third class shook me to the core – we had to team up, two buddies per boat, and decide who would sit fore and who would sit aft. The person aft (back of the boat) would handle the rudder to steer the boat, and keep the necessary tension on the mainsail. The person fore (front of the boat) would handle the rope attached to the jib (the headsail, a triangular sail that sets ahead of the foremast of a sailing vessel; a jib’s most crucial function is as an airfoil, increasing performance and overall stability by reducing turbulence on the main sail’s leeward side, downwind side).

I really surprised myself and the instructor, for I did quite well in learning how to sail, how to avoid the main mast pole when it came rushing at my head, all the safety regulations, all the terms, even how to tack across the lake when the wind was too strong to sail down stream.

Sailing Sloop


This could be a really long post if I told you all I learned in the class, so I will just tell you one more thing. In the last class before we went out on the lake, the instructor told us we had one final test, and that was to learn how to upright the boat when we capsize. Okay – that just about made me get up and walk out, but, I had come far and was not going to chicken out. We went out, got in our boats and headed out. My buddy and I were doing just fine, we did not capsize. We watched everyone else flip upside down then right their boat. The instructor sailed over to our boat and said, “You two have not capsized yet.” I grinned at him. “No,” I proudly said. “We have been very careful and we watched to learn how everyone got their boat back up.” The instructor said, “I don’t think you understand!” and quickly stretched out an oar and pushed us over.

He did it so fast I barely had time to take a breath and there I was, under water with the sails below me. Because my buddy and I had watched everyone else, we swam around to the keel and grabbed hold of it, pulling hard till our boat was upright again. When we got back in the boat, the instructor was laughing and said we passed with flying colors. Yep, flying colors, indeed, I was all shades of red and green, from anger, to embarrassment, to sick.

I did it ! I took a sailing course and passed. Would I ever do it again? Nope! I was in my prime back then and I don’t think I would survive that course now. I must admit, though, it was quite fun – and no monsters ate me.

© 2017 Phyllis Doyle Burns

Phyllis Doyle Burns
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Phyllis Doyle Burns

I am an author on TCE and write mainly in poetry and short stories. I have always liked to write. It is important to me that writing comes from my heart and soul. When writing poetry, if I do not feel a spiritual connection to what I am writing on, I will discard it and go on to something I can connect with on a spiritual level. I live in the moment, I write from the past or beyond the veil. When writing fiction I go with whatever inspires me at the moment - it could be funny, sorrowful, romantic or sometimes done with the use of colloquial language from mountain folk or other cultural regions. I began writing content online in 2007, starting with BellaOnline - A Voice For Women, where I was the Native American Editor, Folklore & Mythology Editor, and the Appalachian Editor. I also wrote articles for The Examiner, Daily Two Cents, and Yahoo. I am currently an author on HubPages. Most of what I write takes a lot of research and I love it. Even if it is a fictional story, I will research for accuracy in whatever it takes to make my characters, their era, their location, etc. become realistic to the reader. I hope you enjoy my works. Thank you for visiting.

13 thoughts on “Boat Sailing Course on Big Lake, Mount Vernon

  • August 5, 2017 at 3:05 AM

    I’m a land lover Phyllis; I do enjoy water sports and have been on small cats but nothing bigger and certainly not taught as you have been. Well done, I’m not a fan of deep water travelling, for sure, but small sailing boats are fine and fun. A great experience. Enjoyed the sharing. Cheers!

    • August 5, 2017 at 3:11 AM

      I prefer being on land, too. I love the sea, to watch its many moods, from the shore. But the sailing in a small boat was fun when I overcame my fear and faced it. Thank you so much, Tony. So glad you enjoyed this.x

  • August 5, 2017 at 8:44 AM

    Lovely, Phyllis!

    Brings back memories to me of Santa Barbara, CA. Sometimes I go on a kayak into the lake. And, I dearly love to swim in the lakes up here, where I live. It is one of my favorite things to do! But, I do not go into the ocean because the waves scare me, as well as the sharks, and Stingrays. But, I still find the ocean beautiful and love to watch the waves. And, I find the ocean air to be enchanting.

    I like Lake Tahoe very much. Thank you for sharing this..and I am glad that no monsters ate you because we need you here with us.

    • August 5, 2017 at 1:38 PM

      Thank you, Tamara. Glad this brought back good memories for you. I have never been in a kayak. It looks like fun, but it is not something I could do. Lake Tahoe is beautiful, I love it. Thank you so much for reading and leaving a lovely comment. Take care.

  • August 5, 2017 at 9:09 AM

    Like Tony, I too am a land lover, I don’t mind lakes, boating, swimming or skiing, but on a lake, not an ocean. Like you Phyllis, I have a phobia about what lurks far below, looking up to see if there are any delicious human torsos dangling to snatch and pull asunder. Isn’t though amazing the courage we all had when younger to try out different things, yet would never do them today! I love the ocean beaches, the smell of the salt air, but NOPE, not at all interested in floating above or swimming under it. I give so much credit to all those wonderful adventurous spirits though who love to explore there depths. NOT ME. lol

  • August 5, 2017 at 9:11 AM

    Forgot to say how proud I am of your achievement learning to sail and all the language and technique required to do it. I love the part where your instructor used his paddle to tip you guys over, he was trying to make a point and you two got the message beautifully. I enjoyed reading about your adventure on learning how to sail. Well done.

    • August 5, 2017 at 1:57 PM

      Thank you very much, Vincent. I must admit I enjoyed the class very much. Lakes and rivers are fine for me – the ocean has too many creatures in it, beautiful though they are, I love watching the ocean and listening to the waves. Thanks for reading and for being proud of my achievement. Vincent. Take care.

  • August 5, 2017 at 9:17 AM

    I forgot to say that even though one of my favorite things to do is swim, I only like swimming in lakes, or rivers. I do not like chlorinated waters of swimming pools. The chlorine burns my eyes.

    • August 5, 2017 at 2:01 PM

      Hi Tamara. Swimming is fun. I do like swimming in lakes or rivers if I am familiar with the body of water and don’t go out too deep. I like the swimming pool in the evenings when it is quiet and all the kids have gone home.

  • August 5, 2017 at 9:25 PM

    Very much enjoyed Phillis. As you know I love my Colorado Rocky Mountains and have only seen the ocean several times in my life. I do know of one of the most beautiful high mountain lakes in the world and I was lucky enough to have lived there for some time in my life. If you ever get the chance you must visit Grand Lake, Colorado.

    • August 5, 2017 at 10:10 PM

      Thank you, Kurt. I would love to visit Grand Lake, it must be a lot like our Lake Tahoe out here in the Sierras. There is so much I wish to do in what is remaining of this life. I am so glad you enjoyed my sailing experience. As scared as I was at the time, I often think about it with fond memories and miss those times I guided my boat around the lake. Thanks again, Kurt. I always enjoy your visits.

  • August 6, 2017 at 5:40 AM

    This was fun and interesting to read Phyllis. You were very brave! I do enjoy going on boats and love canoeing but have never tried to sail a boat or try to right one after capsizing. Thank you for sharing.

    • August 6, 2017 at 6:35 AM

      Thank you so much, John. To right a capsized sail boat was unbelievably easy, I was really surprised to see those sails come up out of the water. I am very glad you enjoyed my memories of that class. Thanks again, John. Have a great evening.

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