The following is Joe’s Editor’s note from the February 2022 issue of 48° North. 

As many of you know, my wife, Kaylin, and I welcomed our first child in mid-December. Baby Rowan is the best — she’s so sweet, she eats like a champ, and she’s sleeping… well, some. The first weeks of parenting have been blissful and blurry, and I hope we’ll remember as much as we’re trying to lock away in our memory vaults. 

Walking around a dark house in the wee hours with Rowan in my arms, I talk to her about the world she’ll get to know. Of course, one of the things I tell her about is sailing. Here are the first things she’s learning about sailing, as articulated by her doting, if bleary-eyed, new dad. 

“Rowan, sailing is fun.” It is often difficult, exciting, and complex, and is ever-changing. It can surprise and stress you, and sometimes sailing will challenge you to find enjoyment in it. But all of this is fun. Fun is the first reason I sail, and it’s the first thing I want her to experience about the water. It is joyful to move around powered by the invisible wind. It’s awesome to be afloat and surrounded by the mysterious and beautiful ecosystem of the sea. It’s rewarding to set sights on a faraway point and dance with these natural forces to travel there. The focus and freedom and faculty we experience on boats… for me, you can boil it all down to fun. And I hope Rowan will feel similarly.

“Rowan, you could be the finest sailor on the planet, but you don’t have to be great to love it.” Sailing is accessible. It isn’t perfectly inclusive — we can get much better at that — but I see fewer barriers between sailors than I see between participants in many other pursuits. Whatever styles of sailing appeal to Rowan, nothing can stop her from going as far as she wants to go. Crucially though, ascendancy, accolades, and achievements are not required. Sailing is for everyone, and we all appreciate it in our own way. The people I know who seem to get the most from sailing, who celebrate it most fully, and whose lives are most positively impacted by it — they are not measurably the most skilled or most decorated. The important thing is to love it.

“Sailing is something you can do on your own, Rowan, but it’s really special to sail with your friends.” I like to tell Rowan about the sailors she’ll meet, and there are a lot of them. Sailors are good people. When I first moved to Seattle, it didn’t take long for me to realize that the sailing community was my community. I urge her to listen to them, learn from them, and be inspired by them. Some sailors are happiest leaning into their self-sufficiency and sailing singlehanded on their own boat, which may be large or small. She might like solo sailing most of all; but if she’s like her dad, she’s going to thrive when engaging with others under sail. Those people may start as friends, or become her friends after they have shared experiences together. The interpersonal aspects of sailing are among my favorite things about it. Being with friends is great. Hanging out with friends on the water is amazing. Sharing the activity of sailing with friends is simply the best. 

In these early days of parenting, it feels like all our relationships bear new fruit as we witness our dearest people becoming Rowan’s village. I feel speechlessly fortunate that my community will be her community, at least for the foreseeable future, and boat folk will be a big part of that.

Outside my little world of dad-brain, I’m thinking about the community of boaters right now because the Seattle Boat Show returns in person this month. What a perfect time to enliven the excitement about what we love, and to discover or rediscover those unique relationships between folks who share passions for being on the water. It’s pretty cool to think the Seattle Boat Show has been providing that opportunity for 75 years, and I wonder what it will be like in another 75. I hope Rowan will be there. 

I’ll see you on the water,