As the son of a son of a sailor/
I went out on the sea for adventure/
Come sail away, come sail away/
come and sail away with me/
And if the wind is right you can sail away/
and find tranquility/
sailing takes me away. . ./

The songs run through my mind as quickly as the white flapping canvas above slams into place as my daughter Candy turns the boat. My daughter turns the boat. This sounds so preposterous, my daughter sailing! A 25-foot Capri sailboat, no less. I wouldn't believe it if I wasn't sitting right here ducking quickly under the sails to allow their sudden change.




Contemplating selling the
house and buying a boat.


"Ready to taaaaaaack!" She yells again and beams at me in a stately manner as if to say, "Yeah, check me out now. I'm captain of this ship!" Candy takes her new job seriously and speaks to Mark, our instructor from Mission Bay Sport Center, in some strange jargon. What's this ready to attack stuff? I wonder but not allowing my lack of comprehension to reveal for Candy and Mark seem to know what they are talking about. "Okay, let's do a come about." The hull, the main, the mast — I hear words that couldn't possibly relate to a boat. But from the sound of things, my little sailor and her teacher understand each other and know what they are doing.

I know now to tuck under as fast as possible when they yell the "tack" word to avoid being slammed by the sails overhead. I swear that she was yelling "ready to ATTACK" — attack her mother, that is!

I'll just let them carry on their little lingo and sit back and watch the Sportscenter and shoreline diminish. As the boat gains its freedom, I start to gain mine. The weight of responsibility starts to lift and I hear nothing but the sound of lapping water and Jimmy Buffet serenading me from the Sportscenter's outdoor speakers. I close my eyes and delight in Jimmy's life for just one day.

I'm glad to have elected the private lesson with this happy-go-lucky certified instructor. I'm just as impressed with Mark's nautical and people skills as I am with their rental fleet which includes Hobie and Prindle catamarans, sailboards, and sloops. They also have kayaks, paddle boats, and Wave Runners.




Sailboat racing is an oxymoron.

Several boats lazily glide by and Mark tells me a race is going on. I hardly call floating dully by a race. The sailboats look as sleepy as I. "So what's the point of sailing?" I questioned poor Mark who has been bombarded with my questions since we started. I guess in my more-rushed world I needed to find a point to this sailing thing.

"
The point of sailing is that there is no point." He grins and bares that familiar perfect California smile framed by sunkissed hair and skin. So much wisdom from one so young, I thought to myself.

Well, I can certainly assent to what he just said and let Mission Bay's glistening water hypnotize me. Oh, Happy Day, my mind sings to me. It's no wonder so many songs have been inspired by sailing.




View of the Mission Bay shore
from a 25-foot Capri sailboat.

"Always keep your lines neat." Mark teaches my wide-eyed child. I awaken from my trance and lift my head to look around. Well, from the sound of things, it seems that the two of them have everything under control and I, as the passenger, have no worries but to watch the many different boats go by and to slip back into my zombie state.

And they call me "Mellow Yellow" I hear my thoughts singing these words as I pour out of the boat and on to shore to prowl Mission Bay Sportscenter with my trusty camera in hand. Lurking around the corner to catch some action on film, I spot Zach, who is the manager. Once again, that familiar California smile and tan sporting the infamous Hawaiian shirt that the staff members wear greet me. Oh, and of course, bare feet. What a work uniform! Even Jimmy Buffet would be proud! Zach is humming as he assists customers. With bare feet, breezy shirts, and Jimmy cooing in your ear all day, it's no wonder the entire staff of thirty certified instructors are enjoying so much what they do here.



Time for the
next water toy!


Rrrrrooaarrr! I hear the commotion of an engine and then a high-pitched girlie squeal and dash toward the beach to get whatever action shot was about to happen. There was Mark putting the jet ski into full throttle and my daughter shrieking as the cold water shot directly up and showered her with its chill. They head straight into the waves created by the motorboats in order to "catch air".

"Wasting away again in 'Margaritaville'/
Looking for my lost shaker of salt"


— Jimmy wails it out as I decline Zach's offer to take us to the Barefoot Bar & Grille via boat for dinner. I tell him that we have already made arrangements for transportation. "Okay, let us know if you change your mind." And off he went with his California smile to help another customer.




Barefoot Bar & Grille is on a
tiny island in the middle of
Mission Bay, reached only by boat.
.

Little did I know that the restaurant was on an island and the only way to get there was by boat or to cross two heavily-traveled bridges. My plan of riding our bikes to the restaurant was not the best one for the day. I call my driver and he has a funeral to attend. My only other choice is to harass Zach again after he asked me several times and I had convinced him that I had transportation all taken care of.

"
No, problem. I'll be there as soon as we close up shop," he almost sings to me with that once-again smile. He is standing in the midst of many customers and is so carefree that I'm not even sure he will remember.

I rush through dinner and although the food was delicious, I don't want to miss my boat ride home so with bellies full we wait for Zach. The Barefoot Bar & Grille boasts a gorgeous waterfall to provide tropical sounds during dinner, a lagoon, and many wooden bridges and paths. Surrounded by palm trees and the beautiful Mission Bay, the restaurant needs no other décor but what nature has already provided. It is has the most beautiful atmosphere I have ever seen of any restaurant!

"Sitting on the dock of the bay/watching the tide roll away/
I'm just sitting on the dock of the bay/ wasting time. . ."





Zach Funston, Manager of
Mission Bay Sport Center,
decked out in his "work
uniform" - Hawaiian Shirt,
barefeet & California smile.


My thoughts roll over this song as we wait for Zach. One boat after the other appears and then disappears. "Maybe he forgot," I tell my daughter with dissipating hope as the sun begins to set and I mentally try to figure out how to tell a taxi driver that I left all my money in the hotel room and that he would have to wait while I ran inside to retrieve it in order to pay him.

"Hey, it's them! It's them!" My daughter must have radar vision for I can't tell who's who and what's what.

"How can you tell it's them? Everyone looks alike and every boat looks the same from this distance." I'm starting to get a little irritated with her.

"THE HAWAIIAN SHIRTS!" She yells and jumps up and grabs her bag. Aaaah! — the Hawaiian shirts, I thought and jump up and grab my bag.

Rescued by our knights in shining armor, I mean, in shining Hawaiian shirts and California smiles, Jason Boone, owner of Mission Bay Sport Center, and Zach Funston, General Manager, take us to our hotel via motorboat.




Mission Bay Sport Center
1010 Santa Clara Place
San Diego, California 92109
858/488-1004

To truly experience southern California, be sure to visit Mission Bay Sport Center. With a facility of over 7,000 square feet, the largest public watersports facility in San Diego, located right on the palm-tree lined bay and its beautiful beach, you're sure to get all that you expect from the water.

With thirty certified instructors who are trained in CPR, First Aid, and Water Resuce to assist you, you may wish to take a refresher course to help you brush up on your skills or get a private lesson. They also offer group events customized to your needs and various camps such as multisports, sailing, surfing, windsurfing, and many other camp themes and activities.

Be sure to check out www.missionbaysportcenter.com for the most current schedule, registration form, rates, and other details.

Feature and photos by Lena Hunt Mabra, Kansas City Correspondent. Read Lena's Jetsetters Magazine feature "Hike Bike Kayak San Diego."


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