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Sartori @ 40 - An Old Sailboat Tale by Jer Welch


So, I went for my first of the season, and earliest ever, sail this week, March 24th to be exact, and it was grand. While the winds were light and the air temps only in the mid-50’s, the fact that I was getting out while it was still only March brought a smile to my bearded face, a grin actually! I was actually pretty concerned about Satori just a few weeks earlier, as she was stuck hard in the lake ice over the winter months, something that had never happened in the 32 years this boat and sailor have been together. Circumstances came together last fall which contributed to the careless fact that my beloved boat was going to have to over winter in the frozen lake waters of the Portage Lakes…..but, she broke free of the icy mantel of the lakes a few weeks ago, when strong southerly winds finally broke up the ice, and she was floating freely once again…..such indignity my poor boat had to suffer due to my careless stewardship!

While sailing / drifting around the home waters of Heron Lake (small lake others call less poetically “miller lake”, one of the 14 lakes in the Portage Lakes State park) on this pleasant early spring evening, I realized that Satori has a special birthday this year……..she was manufactured in Costa Mesa, just south of LA, California, 40 years ago…..that is pretty amazing, the boat is still in pretty decent shape overall! Yes, she does need some typical seasonal “sprucing up”, sanding down and re-coating her mahogany wood trim and rudder and tiller, and waxing her sun-bleached fiberglass deck as I usually do every spring, those are labors of love for my beloved old boat!


How many times over the past 3 decades has this great little cruising sailboat offered me solace, given me some calm when I needed it, and excitement when I needed some spice in my sailing life? Each time a sailor goes out for a sail, it is slightly different than the time before, conditions of wind, wave and evening light are never exactly the same from outing to outing….nor is our state of mind constant either…..one thing is for certain, though…..I am grateful to have this lovely sailboat in my life, blessed also to have already gone out sailing before the arrival of April!

When I think back to when I bought this boat, when I was at the ripe age of 20, how many things have changed in my life since then…..but this vessel has been a literal beacon, and brought me so many pleasant and purposeful hours on the water, words of gratitude between sailor and special boat likely sound a little, well….odd, to the “non-sailing” crowd…..but if you have ever been so lucky to be out sailing on a fine spring evening, hearing the sounds of the lake and the earth reawakening, spring peepers making their annual peeping sounds, geese and ducks milling about, and the sound a Great Blue Heron makes when taking flight, you will know what I speak of easily…..


Happy Birthday, Satori, and many more years together, old girl!

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