MY VERY FIRST SAILING EXPERIENCE! Uncle Irwin said, “Figure It Out!”

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I was about 15 years old and my brother was 16 when our family was invited to my wealthy¬†and famous aunt and uncle’s lake house in Canada. Aunt Xenia and Uncle Irwin Miller had a summer home on Lake Rosseau in Windermere, Ontario. The details are a bit fuzzy after all these years but I remember there was a large summer house on the lake, with other beautiful homes tucked away in the pines.

The home was surrounded by woods, sprouting fresh raspberries that could be eaten right off the vine. Aunt Xenia took us outside for a foraging expedition and, for dessert that first night, she had the cook serve the raspberries in bowls of cream with sugar sprinkled on top, much like you’d eat cereal. I still eat raspberries that way to this day.

It was summer and the weather and surrounding scenery was literally postcard perfect. The next afternoon, Uncle Irwin took my brother and I down to the water’s edge. Two small sunfish-type sailboats bobbed in the soft breeze. He handed us each boxy, orange life vests, pointed at the boats, and said, “Figure it out!” He then walked back to the house.

That was a long time ago and my brother probably remembers things differently. What I remember is that he spent a lot more time in the water than I did! Neither one of us had ever sailed before but, to me anyway, it was pretty simple. You first had to step into the tiny sailboat without capsizing. Once you’d accomplished that, you had to untie the boat, put up the sail, and try to figure out how to move it forward. With the tiller in one hand, and the small line in the other, I wiggled my bottom, trying to get the boat into deeper water.

I quickly figured out that if I pulled the sail one way, I moved forward. If I let the sail flap in the wind, I went nowhere. If I pulled the sail another way, I took a swim. It only took one capsizing event for my brain to figure it all out. I happily spent the rest of the day zipping across the lake.

I would not sail again for another year or so. By then, I was dating a boy, Steve B. (not his real name), who was a daredevil…


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Angela Hoy is a publisher, a blogger, and the author of 19 books. She lived on dirt her entire life before her family gave away almost everything they owned, and moved onto a 52-foot Irwin Center Cockpit Ketch. They all live, work, and play on board full-time.

Angela is the publisher of¬†, a free source of paying markets for freelance writers and photographers. If you want to write for magazines, websites, businesses, or others, check it out. It’s free! Her publishing services company,¬†, has published more than 9,000 books over the past 18 years. If you want to publish a book, she’d love to hear from you!¬†Abuzz Press¬†is BookLocker’s hybrid publishing company. And,¬†¬†offers services to authors who are having their books published elsewhere.