A Novice Hooked By Windy II
By Stephen Kinosh

View of the Windy II from the Bascule bridge. Lorain, OH.

I have lived close to Lake Erie my entire life. Two years ago, my wife and I, along with our son Joshua relocated from Cleveland, west to Lorain Ohio. Now, Iím only one block from the lake. Daily trips take me along the waters edge. A wide variety of boats head up and down the Black River, to the lake and back to their slips. I noticed that there were far more sailboats than powerboats. Now, in a society that is moving at the speed of sound this seemed strange. Why, I wondered? Not knowing anyone with a sailboat, that question would have to remain unanswered, or would it?

For Fathers day, my eldest son and his wife gave me a gift that would be a turning point. The Windy II, a barquentine rigged schooner out of Chicago, was in Lorain for tours and lake cruises. They presented me a ticket for a Sunday afternoon cruise.

Being a photographer, I showed up about an hour early to get some pictures of the ship for my file. I was amazed at the size of the ship and her masts and rigging. When it was time to board, about forty guests joined the crew for the cruise. I took a seat toward the rear of the ship on
the main deck and waited to get underway.

This was a cruise that asked for volunteers to help raise and lower the sails. I watched and took pictures of all this activity. The captain called for hands to cast off. We got underway using the diesel auxiliary. We headed down the Black River to the opening to Lake Erie. We reached the end of the river and the captain called for hands to start raising sails.

People started scurrying around. I got some more great shots. Once the sails were up, we turned some real speed. The motion was pleasant and smooth. Soon the smoothness was replaced by the gentle rocking of the ship on the open waters of Lake Erie. I watched as other boats passed by and looked at the Windy in awe. She is the largest sailing vessel seen in the area. Most sailboats are day sailors or cruisers.

Volunteers heave to.

One gentleman I talked to on the Windy II owned a 28-foot sailboat and was here just to see what sailing was like in the past. He told me there is nothing like sailing. Going where the wind takes you, and figuring out how to get back again. He told me that anyone could operate a powerboat, as he had in the past, but then he graduated to sailing and had never looked back. He told me that it is more work, but the rewards are fantastic. We talked a bit more, then went back to enjoying our own ďwindyĒ cruise.

We were out for about an hour and a half, and I noticed that the majority of the boats that I saw were sailboats. Again, that question arose. Why? Paying attention to what was going on around me, I noticed that my new friend was right. Sailing is more work. Although, not many of us would own a boat of the size of Windy II. There was a lot to do, but no one seemed to mind. It was at this point that I realized that I no longer noticed the rocking and was really enjoying the cruise.

Captain / crew of the Windy II.

Activity and noise were all around me, but I was in my own world. I also noted that I hadnít taken many pictures, and got back to shooting. Pictures of the captain and crew, the volunteers lowering the sails as we headed for the mouth of the river, and most of all, the other boats out enjoying the June afternoon. As we approached the dock, I realized that if there were so many sailboats out here, there had to be something to this. I was hooked.

When I got home, my wife asked if I enjoyed the trip? The smile on my face and a the gleam in my eye were obvious and the answer. The next day I was off to the local bookstore and picked up copies of sailing magazines. I was hooked.

I decided to talk to my wife about this sailing thing. I told her that since we were so close to the lake, we should make the best of it and buy a boat. After she recovered from my shocking proposal, she kind of agreed and the search began. The following weekend, we were out for an evening ride, and low and behold, I noticed a sailboat brokerís office. I had her stop the car, and I got out. Cautiously, she followed. I showed her what little I had learned from reading, and she nodded, knowing I was hooked. We agreed that it wouldnít happen this year. We didnít want to rush into things, and there are bills that needed taken care of first. I have already contacted the local sailing schools, and started looking at marinas close to home. Next spring is the target. It will give me time to research our dreams.

Steve Kinosh is an amateur photographer from Cleveland, Ohio. He now resides in Lorain, Ohio. He has always loved the water and looks forward to purchasing his first sailboat.