following article appeared in the October 2005 Gwinnett Business
a balmy Saturday afternoon, I gather with other novice sailors on a
dock at Lake Lanier's Aqualand Marina for an onboard class with the
Windsong Sailing Academy. The only sound is the merry
cling-clang of metal boat fittings blowing in the breeze and the
frantic quacking of a duckling that has temporarily lost sight
of its mother. A great blue heron swoops overhead and flaps
off toward the lush forest.
"Wow! Look at that!" Capt. Dave Crumbley exclaims, as he pauses to
admire the majestic bird. Then he invites us aboard a Colgate
26, a sleek, high-performance vessel especially designed for
mood is upbeat, to say the least.
"There is something about being on the water that can change
attitudes," Crumbley notes. "We live in air-conditioned
houses, drive around in air-conditioned cars. We're removed from the
elements and our senses get kind of dulled. Sailing brings you
in touch with nature. It brings you alive".
Crumbley should know. The Lilburn resident took up the sport
in the early 1980's and was soon in demand to join racing crews in
Lanier's thriving sailing community. In 1987, Crumbley was
"Auxiliary Skipper of the Year" and he founded Windsong Sailing
Academy, charting a new course for his life. The former
computer consultant is now devoted to introducing landlubber to the
joys of sailing.
does he consider the ideal student?
"Anyone who's breathing", Crumbley says.
Couples seeking a bit of romance, ParticipationGuidelines.htmwanting to put a little
"sizzle" into a corporate retreat, families wanting to bond through
a challenging activity - Windsong caters to them all.
"Aye, aye, maties!" Crumbley heckles us, his student crew, with bad
pirate imitations and corny jokes as he shows us how to hoist the
mainsail. The Colgate catches the wind and we're off across
the lake. Dozens of sailboats flock in the distance, heading
for the starting line of a regatta on this gorgeous September day.
"It's not just a guy thing," Crumbley says. "We have a lot of ladies
who love the independence and satisfaction they get from sailing.
The same is true with children. When you put them on a boat
and give them responsibilities, they develop pride".
good sailing instructor should be part coach, part psychologist and
part marriage counselor, he says.
a sailing school, you really have a chance to give new vision to
people, return the zest to their lives. Every day is exciting
and at the end of the day, you know you've helped people gain a
sense of accomplishment," he says.
Crumbley utilizes nine licensed captains and their vessels to teach
onboard classes on Lake Lanier. A two-hour session on the lake
costs $69. In addition, Windsong teaches sailing basics in
evening ground school sessions, held at marinas, churches and in
recreation centers in DeKalb and Gwinnett counties. Windsong also
arranges instructional sailing trips off coastal Georgia and
academy's guiding philosophy is that sailing should be fun.
"The real reason people join a sailing class is they want to have
fun," Crumbley says. "We entertain our students first, and
then we have the opportunity to train them. If you don't have
a good gut laugh once in a while, you're doing it wrong".
This afternoon on the water is no exception to the fun rules.
The boat tilts to one side as we gather speed, zipping like a water
bug over the surface of the lake. "Whee!" I'm giggling like a kid.
"Don't worry. We cannot overturn!" Crumbley reassures
everyone. No one seems too worried, judging by the smiles.
"Prepare to tack!" Crumbley shouts, and I reel the jib sheet in
tight. It's a simple act, but I'm thrilled when the jib fills
with wind and I realize that I actually am part of a crew, sailing a
think everybody's favorite sailing moment is the first time they
feel like they've got it, the first time you say to yourself, "I can
do this!" Crumbley says.