I confess. I felt that old familiar tug on my heart.
I went out on the lake aboard Larry and Joyce Aubrey's 33-foot motorsailer Agape to watch the Tall Ships come in.
The sky was clear and a fresh breeze was blowing out of the southwest. Then , from somewhere off in the distance, we watched the majestic Tarangini slowly come into view.
I've seen the Nina and the Bounty before and been aboard at least a dozen other historic ships, but when that drop-dead gorgeous Tarangini came streaming down the shipping channel - its sails furled on four long yardarms with dozens of young sail trainees sitting on top of them - well, I fell in love with boats and sailing all over again.
What could be better than being out on the water with good friends, the sun on your arms, the cool wind blowing little shivers down your back and the sense that history is unfurling right before your eyes.
Forget stress and deadlines, answering e-mail and fighting traffic. This was real - part our heritage and more fun than the Raptor.
Boats are easy to love, but even a lot of people who've lived here all their lives aren't aware that the Toledo area is boating heaven
Yes, boating heaven - with quick and easy access to the water, low-cost options for lessons and club memberships, every type from powerboats to rowing shells and a multitude of cruising destinations..
Wherever you want to go - whether it's in the Great Lakes or the Atlantic Ocean - you can get there from here.
If the visit of the Tall Ships has whetted your appetite for adventures on the water, they are easy to come by. And even though it's almost August, there are still plenty if opportunities to hitch a ride or take a class to learn what it's all about. No experience required.
For example, Tony Taylor had never sailed before he signed up for an adult sailing class this spring at Jolly Roger Sailing Club.
“I was always looking at sailboats and thought it looked like fun to do,'' he said. “After I took the class, one of the members had a new boat and needed crew for a race, so they hooked me up with him.''
“I hadn't really thought about getting into racing, but I decided to go out and experience what it was like.''
So far, he's crewed for two Wednesday-night races at Anchor Pointe and the boat he was on placed second both times.
“This Wednesday, it was a windy night and we were sitting on the side of the boat for weight because the boats leans over in the wind,'' he said. “It was a new experience for me and I enjoyed it.''
Aspiring sailors don't need a boat to participate in cruises and other activities at Western Lake Erie Sailing Club either, according to cruising chairman Pat Healey.
Healey, who often singlehands her Irwin-designed sailboat, says she is always looking for crew. “It's a stiff [stable] boat and not too scary for people who haven't sailed before,'' she said.
Also, Commodore Jim Monaghan takes people out on short cruises on some nights during the week.
This winter, Healey plans to get together with interested members and work out the itinerary for a flotilla cruise.
For more information , call 1-419-382-7589.
North Cape Yacht Club runs a junior sailcamp that is open to nonmembers up to 18 years of age. Classes have been under way since mid-June, but there is a new refresher course that should interest youths who got a taste of the sport in other programs or already know how to sail.
```Practice Sailing' will help beginners improve the skills they've learned,'' chairman Donna Lark-Weiner said.
``Besides the fun and teamwork it offers, sailing helps kids become more self-confident.''
The session will be held in FJs and Opti 33s from 9 a.m.- 4 p.m. Monday-Friday starting July 28, and Monday-Thursday the following week. The teachers are U.S. Sailing-certified instructors.
Toledo Rowing Club will offer a crash course in sculling and sweep rowing Aug. 4-30 from 6:30-7:30 p.m. The program is limited to students of junior high age or older. All participants must be able to swim.
The clubhouse is located just inside the entrance to International Park. More information is available on line at www.toledorowing.org or by calling 419-698-9935.
Personal Watercraft Training, a three-hour course deveoped to teach safe operation of PWCs, will be taught on the Maumee River by the City of Toledo Boating Education Center in Walbridge Park
Topics will include slow-speed maneuvering, off-throttle steering and preventive maintenance.
The program will be offered on July 31. from 6-9 p.m. and repeated on Aug. 14 and 21. Students must be at least 14 years old and have completed a Boating-education course within the past four years. Tuition is $15.
The Center has also scheduled a week-long canoeing course Monday-Friday, Aug. 4-8, from 6-8:30 p.m.. The first day of class will be conducted at the Highland Park Pool.
Tuition is $50 for adults and $35 for youths. Students must demonstrate the ability to swim before talking the class. Call 419-936-3848.
Anyone interested in paddling can sign up for the second annual Great Maumee River Dragon Boat Festival, scheduled at International Park, Aug. 2.
“We expect over 30 teams and 60 heats throughout the day,'' said Grace Brown of the Toledo Rowing Club, a sponsor along with Partners in Education and area Rotary Clubs.
Dragon Boat racing is a colorful and noisy sport. On a scale of 1-10 crazy , it's probably an 11.
The Hong Kong-style boats are 40 feet long and have a dragon's head on the front. Twenty people paddle each boat and a drummer seated in the front sets the cadence by beating a drum. There's also a steersman who stands in the back and communicates by shouting with the drummer.
“We still need more teams and more volunteers. The rowing club needs to fill two boats,'' Brown said. “You don't need any rowing skills and we provide the training.''
Each paddler will be asked to pledge $75; the tax-deductible fee will benefit Partners in Education. Lunch and snacks will be provided, along with shirts.
20/26-48th Inter-Lake Yachting Association Junior Regatta, Put-in-Bay
25/27-Annual Regatta, Monroe Boat Club
26-Race to the Sisters, Monroe Boat Club
26-Predicted Log Contest, Toledo Power Squadron and Ottawa River Yacht Club, at Toledo Yacht Club
26/27-Pascoe Sailaway, Sandusky Sailing Club
29/Aug. 2-ILYA Powerboat Regatta, Put-in-Bay
31-Buffalo Deepwater Race to Put-in-Bay, ILYA