Lake Chiemsee Learning to Sail Week

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August 7th 1987
Published: October 2nd 2011
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As we had already done some travel this year and we would be going back to the States for Christmas. Besides, Linda was due to deliver our second child, Rosanna, in October. So we decided for our summer vaction to take a trip where we could stay in one place for a week.

We hadn't been to Lake Chiemsee, south of Munich and at the base of the German Alps, since 1978 so I checked into what we could do there. I found out the the Armed Forces Recreation Center offered a six day "Learn to Sail" week with Red Cross Certification.

Linda didn't think she would be able to do any sailing, but was more than pleased to be able to relax around the hotel. Besides, we could explore the countryside after my lessons, much as we had done on a previous trip in 1978.

So on Saturday, August 7th, we drove from Overijse to the AFRC at Chiemsee, arriving at suppertime. They had totally renovated the hotel so it was very nice. Linda would be comfortable for the week.

The next morning I met with my sailing class for what would be a day of book learning followed by a test. With that successfully passed, then we had to show that we could swim at least 50 meters, so down to the lake we went. The water was freezing cold, even in August, and I went numb while swimming. I barely made it, and swore that I would do everything in my power to remain in the sailboat for the next five days. Linda was right...she would never have survived the swimming test!

That evening, as for every other evening, Linda, Tamara, and I would get into our car and drive the back roads between the lake and the mountains, finding a small gasthuas along the way where we would have dinner.

The next two days we learned to sail in one person Sunfish. We did most of this within the boat basin, so there wasn't much room for manouvering. This wasn't my favorite part, but I did learn how to tack into the wind and otherwise get around.

The next three days were learning to sail as a member of a crew on a 26 footer. Our instructor was a girl in her early twenties. Besides teaching us how to sail properly, she had some great stories about how she learned to sail. She was from Southern California.

One day her dad returned from work and announced to the family that he had quit his job, sold all their posessions, and had bought a 60 foot yacht. The family was going to sail around the world.

They hadn't any experience sailing such a large boat on an ocean, so they decided to take a practice run down the Baja Peninsula. They pulled into a port, threw out their anchor, and took their dinghy to the dock where they had supper at the yacht club. As they were eating and looking out at their boat, they noticed that the anchor had come loose, and their boat was drifting across the harbor, with their anchor dragging the lines of the other yachts with it.

Well, they made it to American Samoa, where they waiting out the typhoon season. Once they could coninue their journey, they hoisted sail and proceeded out of the protected harbor. As they passed the lea of the island the full force of the winds hit their sails and knocked their boat onto its side. Although it righted itself, everything inside was a mess.

Anyway, they eventually made it around the world. I felt fortunate to have someone with this experience teaching me how to sail.

The second day we sailed out to Herrenchiemsee Island and then had a leisurely lunch at the gasthaus on Frauenchiemsee Island. By about 2 pm we were ready to head back to port, but there wasn't any wind. We were dead in the water. A couple of us started to paddle, but that wasn't effective. We just drifted for hours. We all worried about what our families were thinking, and would anyone come with a power boat to pull us home. By about 4:30 pm a slight breeze picked up and we were able to sail slowly back, arriving about 7 pm. Linda and Tamara were waiting at the dock, just as many other mariner's wives and cildren did over the previous centuries.

Our last day of sailing was Friday. The morning was devoted to a race where we had to go around three bouys set up in a triangular arrangement about a half mile apart. Our team realized that wind direction, not the alignment of the bouys, was the most important factor in speed. Going in a straight line from one bouy to the next was NOT the fastest way. So we won the race.

As it was only noon at the end of the races, Linda, Tamara, and I drove to Salzburg, Austria for the afternoon. We returned to our hotel in time for the awards dinner and the presentation of medals and our sailing certificates, which would allow us to rent sailboats on any inland body of water.

I never did sail again. And after our experience taking a Boston Whaler from St Thomas to St Johns in the Virgin Islands in July 2003, my family never let me take to sea again.

Additional photos below
Photos: 7, Displayed: 7


Aerial view of the Chiemsee AFRCAerial view of the Chiemsee AFRC
Aerial view of the Chiemsee AFRC

Hotel in the upper left and harbor in the lower right

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