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The Sound of Silence: WO Stephen Marinelli participates at a Soldier On Sailing Camp

I recently had the pleasure to attend a two day Soldier On Sailing Camp in Charlottetown, PEI. We all gathered at the Charlottetown Yacht Club in the morning on a beautiful sunny day. Of course, anytime that you have two or more veterans in a room together, questions start flying about. What trade were you? Where were you posted? Tours? Did you know so and so?

After a short while, the helpful staff started to get us focused on the activity. We were introduced to our training instructors headed up by the very experienced Ellen MacPhail, Master Sailing Instructor. She introduced Grant Gordon, Master Sailing Instructor and, RCMP veteran Scott Stevenson. Both Grant and Scott were very gracious as they supplied their personal yachts training vessels. Also, veteran Tom Power, a proud Soldier On supporter, was there providing guidance to all.

We began training in class with some simple boating jargon, knot tying, safety equipment and sail positions relative to the wind. That was enough to get us headed to the boats and go for our first taste of sailing.

Soon enough, down on the docks, we boarded our training vessels and donned our safety gear. The engines were brought to life to warm them up and we were instructed on which lines to cast off.

We then gracefully moved out of our slips and left the safe waters of the marina and entered Charlottetown harbour.

Soon enough, we were out in the middle of the harbour and having been briefed on the procedures to hoist the sails, we turned directly to the wind. “Hoist the main sail halyard!” said Grant. Don’t dare to call it a rope, as sailing vessels have sheets, halyards and lines! Grant informed us all that rope is what you buy from a hardware store.

In no time at all, the main sail was up and then we just as quickly unfurled the jib sail (front sail) right at that very moment, off went the engine and the sound of silence enveloped all us.

It is truly quite remarkable how in those first few seconds of hearing nothing but the water slide effortlessly by the side of the hull, it seemed to stun everyone into a similar silence. A force of its own, if you will. After that short moment of shock and awe, everyone chimed in at the same time about how quiet and peaceful this activity can be.

Mother Nature’s winds moved this incredibly heavy vessel without any effort and it’s like sitting next to a babbling brook with no other sounds to intrude your thoughts. Just the pure joy of it.

The event gave us new friendships and a most wonderful experience, but nothing is more memorable than that sound of silence when the engine stops its sputtering and we glide through the water.