"You want me to handle all these?" replied her husband, his hands dripping with lines. Dotty took the foreguy herself. The spinnaker slithered smoothly up and filled flawlessly. "Who did you put on the foreguy?" asked her husband a second later. "Me," said Dotty. "What's wrong?" "Oh, nothing much," said Bill with the air of an expert. "It was slack there for 10 seconds, is all."
Judging by the banter, anyone would have thought he was on a boat racing to Bermuda instead of a school ship, but the skipper of an ocean racer would have had a mutiny on his hands if he had ordered his crew to jibe as many times as the crew of the Cal-40 did. There was another marked difference: the absence of profanity. "It's like the new Army," said Dr. Sibley.
Back in Newport at the end of the lesson, the sailors piled ashore with a new swing in their legs that looked suspiciously like a swagger. They talked like Transpac veterans about sheets and guys and downhauls, and kidded one another's incompetence. It is true, of course, that no sailing school can cram years of experience into a few hours on the water, but Ardell has given its 1,500-odd pupils confidence to make up the lack. Their coaching is so thorough that they have never lost a pupil or a boat. It would be nice to report that an Ardell graduate had won a Bermuda Race or a Star class championship or was slated to defend the America's Cup in 1967. None has yet achieved such eminence, but virtually all have become dedicated sailors.
Applications flow in from San Francisco, El Paso, Milwaukee, Chicago, Kalamazoo, Richmond, New York and points east at a steady 250 to 300 a month, from as far afield as Borneo and Vietnam. A man with a seat on the New York Stock Exchange recently flew into Newport for a brushup in Ocean Sailing. A Texan saw the school's ad in Hong Kong and applied for admission. Jane Russell was once a student, as was Gower Champion. A businessman from La Jolla was so carried away by sailing that he redecorated his office to look like a boat. And a student named Wheeler ordered a 50-foot boat for himself before he even finished his first course.
Despite the skepticism of the old salts, Cadwalader seems to be proving at Ardell that there is more than one way to learn how to sail. After all, not everyone can get himself born in a bosun's chair. And as Cadwalader himself says, "Even if you never sail again, learning how is great therapy."