Learning to Sail

Learning to Sail

Sail Times Publishing Group Inc tpgonlinedaily.comBy Lawrence Tartaglino

I recently wrote about how Goldie, my Golden Retriever, taught me to fetch the morning newspaper. Now I am going to tell you about how I taught Goldie to sail, swim, survive, and enjoy her many hours at sea.

Sail Times Publishing Group Inc tpgonlinedaily.com


As an 8-month-old puppy, it was evident that Goldie had never been to the beach, the yacht harbor, or around undulating docks and boats. She was in for a surprise.

On her very first full day with us, we decided to introduce her to the Santa Cruz Harbor and our sailboat. She approached the dock with a great deal of trepidation; after all, the “sidewalk” was moving, and the objects attached to it (the boats) were bobbing up and down.

As my wife stepped on board our boat, Goldie decided to follow. Not being familiar with the movement and counter movement of boats and docks, poor Goldie missed a step, and fell headlong into the water. As I looked down at her, her eyes were as wide as saucers, and she was paddling wildly as she realized for the very first time that she could swim.

She could not climb onto the dock, so I reached down, grabbed her by the collar, and hefted her back to safety. She was mortified. She shook and shook to rid herself of the cold water, then retreated to the far end of the dock where she lowered her head in disgust and humiliation.

I feared that she might never trust me again. Not so, the very next day she was up and raring to go.

Sail Times Publishing Group Inc tpgonlinedaily.comWhen we arrived at the dock, Goldie knew what to expect. She approached the floating dock with caution, but the fear seemed to be gone. As she approached the boat, she timed her boarding, and hopped onboard without incident. Time for a boat ride!

We tethered her in with a spare line, and we were off. As the boat left the dock, it began to bob up and down with the movement of the surf. This was new to Goldie, but she was up for it. She snuggled up to me and rested her head on my thigh.

Her look seemed to say, “I don’t know what we are doing or where we are going, but I trust you.”

As the boat cleared the jetty, the motion of the sea became more extreme, with the boat bobbing and pitching. I looked down at my beautiful dog, and she began foaming at the mouth. I did not know dogs could get seasick.

As we left the harbor and began approaching the mile buoy, things began to change. First, Goldie’s nose went into action. She sat up and began sniffing. She sniffed and sniffed. Somewhere out there was the source of a new scent.

Soon, her ears went up. There was a strange barking sound, similar to, but unlike that of a dog. Seasickness was gone. Goldie was straining to see and hear the new stimuli. Then it appeared. Sea Lions.

Sail Times Publishing Group Inc tpgonlinedaily.comAs we approached the buoy, the creatures in the water strained to see the creature on the boat. They seemed different, but somehow related. I held on to my dog for dear life. I was afraid she might leap into the water to get a closer look at her cousins.

Now there was a distinct change in Goldie’s personality. She had gone to sea and survived. She saw and heard her cousins in the ocean, and she had overcome seasickness.

As we reentered the harbor and sailed past the Crow’s Nest, Goldie got up and strutted around the boat She looked directly a the Crow’s Nest as if to say “Eat your hearts out. I went sailing, and I loved it.”

From that day forward Goldie became part owner of the Santa Cruz Small Craft Harbor. She strutted around the boat, she charmed all our dock mates, and became fast friends with almost everyone, even the Harbor Police.

She did, however, manage to fall from the dock into the water a few more times, but now she did it with grace and poise. Sometimes I think she did it on purpose just for the attention. Do I ever miss my sweet Goldie!


For more information: L_Tartaglino@hotmail.com

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