Sailing in Spirit Lake, Iowa


Olivia Vinson, Reporter

Although it is a major part of our history, sailing is not an experience that many teens have. So when my mother told me she signed me up for lessons at the local yacht club in Okoboji, I nearly threw a fit. Okoboji is an intimate vacation destination in Northwest Iowa, where everybody knew somebody, except for me. I was the single New Yorker dropped into the cornfields for the purpose of visiting her beloved family and every year I won the imaginary “Who Came From the Farthest” award. Looking back though, I find fond memories tucked beneath the pure hatred of each lesson. I recall the days where the sails shimmered in the sunlight and the water sang a melody with the laughter of my classmates. I love to watch people’s reactions once I inform them that, yes, I know how to sail and, yes, I have my own sailboat.

My grandfather purchased a Mach 2 for me. The miniature boat only fits two people, but it allows me to retreat to the serenity of the waters. A few days before I left Iowa this year, I decided to take it out. Rigging the boat is not a simple task. The directions are arduous to read and follow, their small lettering scattering the pages like a colony of ants at a picnic. My family members and I struggled before various parts made their way to their intended place.

Once the white hull jumped into the water, I was off. The wind was impeccable and I honestly believed things would go smoothly. As soon as I could no longer see the waving American flag though, the gusts of air halted to a stop. The lake that had been so welcoming minutes before, suddenly left me stranded. The mass of water, known as Big Spirit, stretches 5,684 acres in area. My blue and white striped sail stood no comparison. I waited patiently with high hopes of the wind to return with a grand entrance. The time drew out, weighing me down like the anchor of my ship. I longed for my feet to hit solid ground. When my mother and my ten pound dog came to the rescue in our little inflatable kayak, I was overwhelmed with thankfulness. My mother gingerly handed me one of the oars to the kayak. My hands gripped it, balling into stones, as I pulled each foot of water behind me. A sheer look of determination washed over my face as I pictured myself ashore, sipping a frigid glass of iced tea. My mother found the situation particularly humorous when I didn’t hesitate to launch myself out of the boat. As school begins though, I find myself missing that extensive, summer morning ride.

I still continue to encourage people to take up sailing because nothing can prepare you for the time of thought and the relaxation that only sailors experience. Plus, it makes for a cool story and an intriguing fun fact!