I’m a Boomer, born at the height of the Baby Boom and past three score and ten. Bill Clinton got there first, and scoped out the scene for the rest of us. He found it good, and we all followed. Now Bill Clinton has his Global Initiative to keep him busy, but my pastimes are a lot more local.
If you’re my age, you probably golf. If you have enough money, you might belong to a club. Golf is the perfect boomer pastime; you can drink while you do it (or smoke a discreet joint on the back nine), and it’s really just a combination of billiards and hiking. Not too strenuous, not likely to cause physical harm, and rewarding of practice.
I don’t golf. Never have. Because, you see, a good day for golfing is, by definition, also a good day for sailing, and I’m a sailor. I’ve sailed all my life (as an instructor when I was young) and it fills my soul and widens the eyes of my heart. There is nothing like the feel of the first surge from the mainsail as you haul in the sheet, and the way the vessel leaps forward like an eager thoroughbred.
I keep a motor sailer at a yacht club in downtown Toronto. It’s 10 minutes from my house and the parking is free. The fees are about what I spend on newspapers and coffees in a year (try that, golf club members). Lake Ontario is the perfect cruising lake – unobstructed, large, no rocks (unlike the Northern Channel or Georgian Bay). No sand bars, unlike Lake Erie. The storms can be intense, but not like Lake Superior. And there’s always wind.
In the spring, summer and fall, the boat is my office. I’m there every morning at 10 AM, turning up the Grateful Dead on the stereo and boiling a pot of tea. I stay until sunset and three nights or so a week stay on the boat overnight.
My previous boat was a 22 footer, and I got out sailing a lot more in her. The smaller the boat, the more it gets sailed, I find. Nowadays, Sundays are for cruising, when my shipmate Jamie comes in from Niagara for the day. The boat is just too big to single-hand, so I depend on friends.
I also take groups out for champagne cruises. A couple of bottles of bubbly, a few plates of freshly shucked oysters and the best view of Toronto no one gets. It’s a lot of fun, and I’ve taken groups of co-workers out several times. They’re suitably appreciative, workplace morale is improved and I get to expense my yacht club fees and diesel.
Anyway, like golf, you can drink while you sail (I don’t). It’s not legal, but show me a sailor who doesn’t. You get to hang out with friends and sit down a lot – perfect for lazy boomers. Depending on the size of your boat, you might as well be RVing with all the mod cons. I have air conditioning, hot water, wifi and a bank of TVs.
I realize how fortunate I am to live in Toronto, where sailing is not only possible but excellent. Being a lakeside city, Toronto has a 180 degree segment no one except those few of us in boats visit. You can be a kilometer from the CN Tower and be utterly alone.
So, if it’s sunny, and there’s a steady breeze, you’ll catch me at the yacht club, or out on Lake Ontario, while most of my peers are chasing a little white ball through the weeds. Personally, I don’t get it.