Father’s Day Sails into the First Day of Summer Side by Side with Summer Sailstice

The author, yours truly, at the helm of the Jeanneau 349 on Lake Erie. As I’m always fond of saying, “Life’s too short to sit at the dock.”

This coming Sunday, June 21st, is Father’s Day. Coincidentally, for those of us living in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s also the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year when the sun reaches its northernmost point of the equator marking the first day of summer. In addition to all this, Sunday is also Summer Sailstice, a world wide celebration of all things sailing.

Summer Sailstice was started by John Arndt back in 2001 as a way to share sailing by getting the whole world sailing on the weekend nearest the solstice. “I’ve sailed my whole life and worked in the sailing business for 30 years.” says John. “And like every sailor I know, I always wanted to share sailing with everyone.  Sailing comes in an endless variety of styles – racing, cruising, dinghies, tall ships.  The enormous variety makes it very challenging for the world to understand and for sailors to unite around a common event.  Yet all these sailors are passionate about sailing and all want to share it with others.  The Summer Sailstice sailing celebration gives every sailor a date  to participate, to hoist sails, to show off their aspect of sailing and to share it with friends and the rest of the world.  It’s growing and we’re looking forward to the day when the whole world sails for Summer Sailstice.  And, when it gets big enough, it will become a global 3-day weekend for sailors!”

My dad and my Aunt Ruth sailing on Canandaigua Lake aboard the Lorna Doone about 1938. Dad loved to sail and always tried to get all that he could out of the boat and the conditions. I love this picture with his leg draped over the side in an effort to keep the boat sailing flat.
My dad and my Aunt Ruth sailing on Canandaigua Lake aboard the Lorna Doone about 1938. Dad loved to sail and always tried to get all that he could out of the boat and the conditions. I love this picture with his leg draped over the side in an effort to keep the boat sailing flat.

For me, the fact that Father’s Day just happens to fall on the same day as the Summer Solstice and Summer Sailstice this year is most appropriate. My dad, who passed away last year at the age of 93 was a huge sailor and a great dad. As a teenager, he learned to sail on Canandaigua Lake in up-state New York where my grandparents had a summer place. Somewhere along the line, my grandfather purchased a beautiful wooden sloop he named the Lorna Doone which my dad lovingly sailed up and down the lake during the long days of summer. Later, when I was a young boy, my dad purchased a wooden racing dinghy called a Jollyboat designed by Uffa Fox. The Jollyboat was an incredibly fast and spirited racing dinghy that often needed 3 or 4 people on the rail to keep the thing from capsizing when the wind piped up. He named the boat Betsey Anne, after my older sister Betsey who was born mentally retarded and never got much of a shot a life.

My dad and my Uncle Dave aboard the Betsey Anne in 1970 just before the start of the Nationals on Lake Erie. My older sister Bonnie is also aboard but somewhere in the bilge out of sight.
My dad and my Uncle Dave aboard the Betsey Anne in 1966 just before the start of the Nationals on Lake Erie. My older sister Bonnie is also aboard but somewhere in the bilge out of sight.

When I was about 14, my dad bought for the two of us to race on together, one of the first 420’s to find its way into the U.S. from France. We named this boat Quick Step because if you weren’t quick on your feet you could easily find yourself in the drink. This was followed some years later by a Rhodes 22 then finally a Bayfield 36.

Like my friend John Arndt, sailing has always been part of my life; largely because my father introduced me to it at a young age and taught me to love and appreciate the sea.

Last year about this time, in honor of my dad and Father’s Day, I wrote a blog titled, We are Only as Good as that which we Leave Behind where I make the point that what’s really important in life is not so much our accomplishments but rather the examples we set, the lessons we pass on and the tone by which we lead our lives. Sailing was a big part of my dad’s life. Turns out, not so surprisingly, it was a big part of John Arndt’s dad’s life too. Summer Sailstice helps to promote the legacy and the love of sailing of those that came before. So here’s to great fathers who loved to sail and do love to sail and perhaps with a little help from the long days of summer, will love to sail. Happy Father’s Day to dads everywhere and happy sailing.

On we go…

P.S. Interested in sailing on the Summer Solstice? Hop on board at www.summersailstice.com and enjoy the ride.

John Arndt:
John Arndt: “A picture of 2 of my brothers and a friend of ours in our first ‘”family boat.” I’m in blue and my youngest brother is doubled up w/the life jacket and inner tube. This is where it all began!

Father’s Day, it’s More Important than You Think

I have to be honest and say that I’ve never put much stock in holiday’s such as Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. I’ve always considered them to be mostly manufactured holidays created by greeting card companies in an effort to sell more cards. I know I’m not alone in this thinking but today, I am seeing things differently.

Yesterday I attended a memorial service for a neighbor of mine who passed away after a long bout with cancer;  he was only 51.  Generally speaking, a memorial service, even under the best of circumstances, is never a very cheerful event but this one had a surprisingly upbeat feel to it which is exactly what I am sure my neighbor Mitch would have wanted.

The eulogy was given by Mitch’s son Cameron. Cameron is just about 19. I had not seen him in a while but the last time I did, which was not that long ago, he was sporting a mop of bleached-out brown hair, blown out jeans and was rolling down the road pushing a long-board. In short, he looked like the typical happy-go-lucky surfer dude in search of the next wave to ride. Yesterday however, the surfer dude was gone and in his place stood a dashing young man, with short hair, wearing a crisp white shirt, charcoal gray suit, and striped tie. Cameron delivered a very personal, very emotionally charged speech that forced all of us in attendance to hold our breath and sit bolt upright with our backs flat against the wooden pew. He spoke about all the great times he and his dad had, had together. How they had learned how to snowboard together despite his father’s reluctance to give up his skis. He spoke about the times they spent on the water wake boarding and how his best memories were the two of them hosing off the boat at the end of the day and putting it to bed. He spoke about what a great provider his father had been, how he had been a great husband and a great father to his older sister too. His words were what every dad hopes their son will say after you’re gone. They were quite simply, perfect.

As I left the church and walked to my car, I was reminded of similar words delivered by my father at my grandfather’s memorial service in 1971, 42 years ago. He too spoke about how close he and his father had been, how my grandfather had loved to play games with his children. He talked about how he had taught my dad to throw an inside curve and an outside curve. How when things got to be too quiet at home he would jump out of his chair and say something like “let’s go cut down a tree, or let’s hike up the gully and pick raspberries, or who’s ready for a dip in the lake?” The more I thought about it, the more I realized that while the two speeches were separated by more than forty years, the spirit of the words were identical.

Sunday is Father’s Day. But this year, thanks to my young friend Cameron, I am seeing it in a whole new light, a better and brighter light. This year I am seeing Father’s Day not as just another commercially created holiday but rather an opportunity for self-reflection and introspection. An opportunity to stand in front of the mirror and ask myself, “am I being the best father that I can be?” I’ll ask this question because I want to know that if I were to leave this earth tomorrow, would my children be willing to stand up for me, stand shoulder to shoulder at the podium and say, “our father was a great dad. He taught us how to throw an inside curve and an outside curve, he taught us to ski and to appreciate the outdoors.  He taught us how to sail and how to button up the boat at the end of the day after a fun day on the water. He was a guy who loved to laugh and go on great adventures. He loved dogs. He was a good provider, a good husband to my mom and we will miss him more than you will ever know.” This, is what I think Father’s Day is really all about, a day of annual self-evaluation of how I am doing as a dad, the most important job I’ll ever have. And if from time to time, the answer to the question is “no, you can do better,” I’ll take the truth to heart, adjust my compass and sail off on a better, more favorable heading. So to all you fathers out there, good luck and happy Father’s Day!

On We Go…