“Land was created to provide a place for boats to visit.”
— Brooks Atkinson
Since the dawn of time, humans have sought to broaden their horizons, metaphorically and physically. There is a wanderlust built into all of us. For most, it is just a flicker that sparks once or twice a year, and we go on a vacation to feed that need. For others, it is the driving force of their lives. From this group come the explorers and adventurers of our history books: Francis Drake facing the Spanish Armada in The Golden Hind, Leif Erikson’s discovery of North America, Ferdinand Magellan attempt to circumnavigate the globe that ended in his death…
For millennia the most expedient method of travel for the explorer seeking far-flung adventure was a sailing vessel. As soon as humans learned to sail, we were no longer tied to the land; we became global travelers.
Gone are the days of discovering new lands, safe trading routes, and previously unknown peoples. Even if those opportunities still existed, we could just hop on a plane and be there in a few hours. Still, sailing is part of our collective psyche. Although most of us are probably not sailors, there is something about a sailing vessel, be it large or small, that speaks to that thing inside of all our souls that needs to know what’s over the next horizon. Sailing is romance.
The airplane and the car make travel much simpler and, let’s face it, much less interesting. If we choose to cruise, most choose a diesel-powered cruise ship that is closer to a floating city than Captain Cook’s three-masted bark HMS Endeavour. While the sailing vessel became obsolete as a viable means of trade and transport, sailing has refused to die. Sailors have continued harnessing the wind for adventure and diversion.
In 1967, Sir Francis Chichester became the first person to sail solo around the world, using the clipper trade routes. It took him almost 9 months in his ketch (a double-masted sailboat). In 1968, the first non-stop, solo circumnavigation Golden Globe race was held. A British sailor, Robin Knox-Johnson, the only entrant of nine who completed the race, was announced the winner, although his competitor Bernard Moitessier simply kept going round a second time, scuttling his chance to win.
These sailors, and many others, captured the imagination of an entire generation of would-be adventurers, but even before Knox-Johnson and Chichester became household names, yacht clubs and sailing clubs were a mainstay of American lakes and shores. Even in landlocked Fort Worth, we have several sailing clubs that strive to continue the rich tradition of sailing and regatta racing. Cowtown isn’t only for cowboys!
Founded in 1929, the Fort Worth Boat Club has been teaching generations of Fort Worthians to sail. Located on Eagle Mountain Lake, the Fort Worth Boat Club is far more than a sailing club. With a social calendar jampacked with events throughout the year, club members can do many things other than sailing. However, at its core, the Fort Worth Boat Club is all about sailing and maintains a racing calendar as full as its social calendar. From weekly Wednesday evening club races to monthly moonlight events, club members have myriad opportunities to sail. The junior sailing team competes in local, regional, and national regattas from Florida to California. You don’t have to know how to sail or own a sailboat to be a club member. However, if you harbor a deep desire to follow in the wake of those seafaring explorers, the club has sailing programs for all ages and abilities and a fleet of boats to learn in.
Like its Eagle Mountain counterpart, the Lake Worth Sailing Club has also been around a very long time. Founded in 1935, the Lake Worth Sailing Club is made up of sailing enthusiasts from all over North Texas. The family-oriented club hosts social events throughout the year as well as numerous special events. As with every sailing club, the Lake Worth Sailing Club has racing in its veins and hosts weekly races on just about every Sunday of the year. Members also compete in local, regional, and national regattas. If you have an interest in becoming a member, a great way to meet current members is to turn up on Sunday and offer to crew for one of the boats. Sailors are always on the lookout for good crew!
Cowtown Mariners is a sailing club of a slightly different stripe. Specifically for singles, Cowtown Mariners offers its members sailing opportunities, sailing lessons, and a robust social calendar. The club meets weekly at several locations around Fort Worth including Eagle Mountain Lake and Lake Grapevine for Happy Hour socials and sailing time. The club also hosts a series of parties throughout the year. By all accounts, the Cowtown Mariners appear to have a great time. Sailing experience is not a prerequisite and neither is boat ownership.
It took Robin Knox-Johnson 312 days to encircle the globe in the first Golden Globe race. In 2017 Francois Gabart sailed around the world in 42 days, 16 hours, 40 minutes, and 35 seconds. It only takes about 20 to 30 minutes to drive from most parts of Fort Worth out to Lake Worth or Eagle Mountain Lake for a morning sail or an afternoon regatta. Clearly, it is easier than ever before to broaden your metaphorical and physical horizons and experience the romance of the waves.