Wingfoiling from a Sailboat: Making New Habits

I’ve been cruising on my family’s sailboat since I was six years old, so I have a lifetime of onboard habits. As soon as the anchor is dug in, spare halyards are moved forward so they won’t clank against the mast. Upon waking (with the sun), the overnight dew is used to swab the salt off the decks. Personal items should be stowed. And the icebox is NOT to be opened without consulting everyone else onboard (to minimize cold loss). 

Layered on top of these are the habits added during the second half of Katrina’s (and my) life. These include but are not limited to: Choosing between electric and manual jib trim. Always furling the mainsail with the leeward control line. And, as soon as the engine is started, my father asking, “Is the fridge on?” 

This summer, I asked if we could add something entirely new to this well-honed equation: wingfoiling. Dad said yes, so on a remarkably sunny morning we loaded up and set off for Nantucket (about 30 miles from Katrina’s home port of Woods Hole). With fair tide in both directions and great breeze, we enjoyed two record-breaking sails (with not a single tack), a relaxing layday, and a memorable two nights on board. Plus the special bonus of a first-time occurrence, wingfoiling off Katrina! 

A 38-foot sailboat is, of course, not an ideal platform for a sport that didn’t even exist until her fifth decade… but with a little flexibility and ingenuity, we figured out the best approach. While underway, the two boards fit perfectly between the port bunk and centerline galley table. At night (when that bunk was pulled out), they slept the cockpit. The wings were easy; they disappeared into the quarterberth. 

The two foils were more of a jigsaw puzzle. We settled for a slightly awkward location on the lazarette hatch and tied them to the backstay while sailing—a visible reminder of this new addition to our cruising.

On the layday, we had a leisurely morning of reading and chatting until the afternoon seabreeze filled. We pumped up both wings on the foredeck (though we later deflated them on top of the inflatable dinghy, hanging in its davits). The boards/foils were put together in the cockpit and then dropped over the lifelines by the long arms of Paul. Thanks to Katrina’s boarding ladder, we didn’t even get wet (right away). 

This is probably way more detail than you need, since I’m guessing the number of folks who will be able to combine wingfoiling with a classic cruising boat is rather small. But the point I’m trying to make can be applied to any aspect of life: We are never too old to learn new habits. Katrina (and my Dad) adjusted graciously to the invasion, and we got to go foiling in a completely new location. And, after a great session on the flat waters of Nantucket Harbor, we settled right back into traditional cruising with sundowners and a tasty after-sailing meal. 

We are already planning our next cruise, so I’ll let you know if this first has a repeat. Meanwhile, let me know what the highlight of your summer has been so far in the comments below (or send me an email). Though it doesn’t go back nearly as many years as deck-swabbing, I have a grateful habit of reading every single one.