Sailing out of Fernandina Beach, FL

Kristi and I have committed to 2018 being a year we more fully explore local “travel” destinations and experiences. Next up: sailing.

Living on an island next to the Atlantic Ocean, we drove less than five miles to check this off Kristi’s bucket list. What a blast! Kristi, her best friend, my mom, and I took the “Introduction to Sailing” class offered by Windward Sailing in downtown Fernandina Beach.

The three hour class gives customers time at the wheel while under sail, an introduction to sailing nomenclature (I will always use that word when presented the opportunity), and a chance to work the ropes as well. Guests are invited to be as hands-on or passive as they’re comfortable with.

We sailed on an unusually chilly late March day, the benefit being, the wind was whipping. With a considerable sustained wind and frequent gusts, we enjoyed the full sailing experience – main sail tugging, jib whistling, jockeying the steering wheel to combat the wind and current.

At the wheel with Windward Sailing

At the wheel with Windward Sailing. (Photo Credit Kristi Dosh / TRAVELING WITHOUT KIDS)

What most surprised me was how active an enterprise sailing is.

Between the wind, waves, current, buoys, shore and other boat traffic, I found myself constantly adjusting the wheel to keep our course or set a new one. Furthermore, unlike a motorboat where you travel in a straight line to your desired destination, in a sailboat, relying on the wind in your sails to generate power, you are often forced to travel in zig-zags or wide loops to keep that wind in your sails to reach your end point.

I was also surprised we didn’t get wet. While we were all dressed for it, this was not Splash Mountain at Disney. Despite listing heavily at times to the point where we almost feel like we were going to fall out – although there’s no serious danger of that – we stayed high and dry.

We couldn’t have had a better time and while none of us left hearing a call to the sea necessitating a return, our time spent sailing stands as a memory we’ll cherish for years to come. And it took place in our hometown. While your hometown may not provide access to water and sailing, perhaps it offers hiking, wildlife, a brewery tour, a great museum, sporting event, national park or attraction which visitors don’t hesitate to travel hundreds of miles to experience. I’ll bet it does.

If you find yourself sailing on Amelia Island and having worked up an appetite, let me also recommend a stop at Pi for pizza in downtown Fernandina Beach afterwards. The mozzarella breadsticks were thick, heavy and doughy just like I like them. The marinara for dunking included a dash of spice. The pizza – available only as slices or a giant 20-inch pie – satisfied with leftovers for breakfast the next morning. On the lighter side, the prosciutto and arugula salad was fantastic with loads of fresh tomatoes.