Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Sailing Heals

I was doing what I do an a continuous basis everyday checking my email. I saw an email from my oncology nurse practitioner so I immediately opened it. The email was telling me all about a new program she had heard about called Sailing Heals. They had recently partnered with Mass General Cancer Center! The basics of the program is that cancer patients get the chance to escape with a day of sailing! They offer four different places in Massachusetts to sail from, Marblehead, Marion, Buzzard Bay and South Dartmouth. The great thing about it is that not only does the patient get to sail but they get to bring a guest or two. After perusing their website I was very excited so I immediately submitted my application online requesting a sail from Marblehead.

That is the beginning of my sailing adventure. A short while later I received an email response from Trisha the Executive Director of Sailing Heals letting me know that they had a sail date of June 27th out of Marblehead and that I could bring 2 guests with me. I was so excited I decided to ask my friend Sara if she wanted to come since her and I have similar interests and everything else I have gotten the pleasure of doing through my cancer recovery journey I have done with others or on my own. She was immediately over joyed there only lied one small obstacle in our way. You see we both also work at the same school so it's quite tricky for us to get the same day off under normal circumstances. As it turns out we had the added problem of Sara's co-teacher was off for that week. As it turns out we have a fantastic assistant director and she worked her magic for us to be able to have the day off. June 27th actually worked perfectly because Lewis also had the day off so we would all be able to go together.

Now fast forward to the following Monday and I get another email from Trisha telling me that the weather for Wednesday doesn't look good and that they don't sail during thunder storms so that she regretted to tell me they would have to move the sail to Thursday. Which then presented the same problems as before. However once again our assistant director made it possible for us to go. But Lewis had to work on Thursday and could not get the day off so I invited my mother instead. The entire rest of the week we were filled with excitement as none of us had ever gone sailing before so this was to be quite the adventure!

We needed to be in Marblehead by 11:30am so we headed out around 9:30 just to make sure we had enough time to get there since it is an hour and half away. We did hit a little bit of traffic but nothing too bad and we arrived right on time.

We found a place to park and walked over to The Corinthian Yacht Club!
We walked out on to the porch to find a lively bunch of people as well as beautiful table setup for lunch with an amazing view!
As you can see we all got neat little gift bags in addition to the experience it self. That was a fun little surprise! We all sat down to a fantastic meal. It started with clam chowder which for those of you who know me know I usually don't like clam chowder but this one was actually pretty good and I ended up eating it all! Shocking I know. It was followed my a lovely salad and sandwich. Although I don't eat salad the sandwich was delicious! It was great to be able to sit and eat while we got to know everyone including our captains! 

Then it was time to head out to sea! We were so excited and ready to go! We called for our ferry to go out to the sailboat and made our down to the dock.
We all loaded on to the ferry and headed out!
There were two sail boats going out that day so we dropped the first group off at their boat.
Then we came upon our boat The Thistle!
We got on to the boat with our captain Ken and his wife Pat, Trisha, my Mother, Sara and myself! I was so excited we even got to watch them set everything up and then we headed out. But don't for a second think that meant the work was done because it wasn't. Ken quickly put people to work, including Sara!
Once the sails were up and had caught the wind Trisha was free sailing!
We sailed along for a while and then guess what? It was my turn at the helm! I was extremely nervous and excited all at the same time! But Ken was incredibly helpful and told me exactly what I needed to do and how to do it. It took me a while to get the hang of turning because it is a slow process but I got it down!
I look like a natural but my mom looks like she might be slightly nervous. :)

I got to steer for quite a while and it was nice because I had total control over where we went but I also learned how to read the "roads" that are setup for boats, which boats have the right of way and different sailing terms like head up (means turn towards the wind). I also got to here all about Marblehead and because I steering really had time to listen and take in the beautiful scenery that was around me. We even got to sail around Misery Island.

Then we had to head back. So once again Sara was put back to work with Trisha's help!
 As we were heading back into Marblehead harbor we got to really enjoy all the boats around us. We even saw the Boston Yacht Club! This was probably the cutest boat we saw because it looks just like a toy tugboat that a child would have in their bathtub.
After we got everything all closed up on the Thistle we called for our ferry back. It was so much fun being out on the water so we were sad that it was over already! We got a great view of The Corinthian as we came back to the dock.
After we all got back to the club there was a buzz about how much fun we all had as well as thankfulness to not only Trisha for the program but to our captains who volunteered their time and boats for all of us to be able have this experience! When we had all finished sharing our stories we got together for a group shot!
I had a lot of fun. Being out on the water is a truly amazing experience! Not only is it time away for yourself but also time that you can spend with those whom you are closest with but often don't get to share a laid back/relaxing time with. This trip made me fall in love with the water and boats even more than I already had. I definitely would love to sailing again and I think this program is phenomenal! If you know any cancer survivor who you think would benefit from this please let them know about it. The great thing is that you do not need to be affiliated with any of the partnering hospitals because the program is open to everyone! Also please check out their website and consider donating to keep this program up and running. And of course if you or someone you know has a sailboat and would like to be a volunteer captain they are always looking for more sail boats!

Thanks again to Trisha, Ken, Pat, The Corinthian Yacht Club and of course everyone else at Sailing Heals for an experience I will not soon forget!


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