An American Thread
A Sailing Family's Adventure
Sailing on the winds of a dream.
“People are much more fun than museums.” That’s really not to commit any blasphemy against the museums of this earth, great as they are. But it sums up in one short sentence just why a former Medinan, experienced civil engineer, father of ten daughters, would slice two years out of the center of his life and – as they say – “chuck it all” for the wanderlust life of a seafaring traveler. Why he would become head of a six-person family group making its way across the Atlantic, wandering the heaths and hedges of England, entering the Dutch canal system, lazily wandering through the French wine country to the Mediterranean, crossing to Malta for an end-of-year docking. J. Thomas Forrestel, native of Akron, NY, long-time resident of Shelby Center, turned this corner in life with a firm decision: “I knew if I was ever going to do it, it would have to be now.” At 49, Forrestel just felt that way – and that was the way it was going to be. There are hardly any among the great legion of working people who spend eight hours a day at desk or machine, who have not silently wished, in a “Walter Mitty” moment, for some refreshment in their routine – a total change. Be a beach bum? Join the pro golf tour? Shoot the Colorado rapids? Live by a cool lake in northern Canada in a spot far from the real world? This odyssey of Mr. Forrestel and half his immediate family was really not the product of some magic wand which suddenly transported him from reality to the open sea. Far from it. It began when he was a boy of less than a half dozen years. “I spent the first 15 summers of my life on lakes,” Forrestel told a Journal-Register interviewer. “My father taught us to sail as little kids with a catboat on Loon Lake (near Hornell). ” For Tom Forrestel the boating interest was later transferred to ownership of two 16-foot day sailing boats of the snipe class. In 1963, he and his shipmate wife, Jo Payjack Forrestel, got their first taste of real salt spray when they took one snipe and headed for the winter racing circuit in Florida, the Bahamas and Bermuda. Big things lead to bigger things and in the early 1970’s he and wife, Jo, had seen several of their ten daughters leave the nest (a comfortable sprawling home in Shelby Center). They then began looking through boat folders. It was in the Dutch canal system that Forrestel learned the genuine person-to-person friendliness that was to impress him all through Europe. No fancy American tourist he – just a cruising vagabond with his family who could not speak the language, but somehow, strangely, could carry on a smiling, animated conversation and coax just about any kind of help and warmth out of the lock tenders, barge people, and the like. The reporter folded his notebook and asked Forrestel, “Now, exactly why did you make the decision to do this?” The skippers final word: Curiosity. Written by Bob Waters, former publisher and editor of the Medina Journal.
Format: 8 x 10 Color Paperback, 179 pages
Publisher: Outskirts Press (May 07, 2018)
Genre: BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Personal Memoirs