Sailing with Alex
By Thomas Welch
Growing up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, you’d think Alex Thomas would be passionate about cheese….or beer….or the Green Bay Packers.
22 years ago Alex met and fell in love with his wife, Diane, whose dream it was to live on the coast of New England. So by “dumb luck” (as Alex describes it) they landed in Gloucester, settling in Bay View and raising their two children, Emma and Isaiah.
Alex quickly discovered his other great passion…Gloucester Harbor! Already an experienced sailor (he was a Sea Scout on Lake Michigan), Alex now keeps his 26-foot Typhoon sailboat moored off Rocky Neck.
It was blowing about 10-15 when Alex picked me up to go for a sail, but 20 minutes later, by the time we put in at Stevens Landing on Rocky Neck, the wind had come up to 20-25 mph. “No problem”, says Alex.
With a confidence only years of experience can provide, Alex sets the tiller hard to Port, knowing she’ll fall off that way, he lets the mooring go. As if eagerly following some unspoken command, the vessel quickly brings her bow about, fills her sails and takes off, skipping over waves toward the western shore. Though it’s early August, this much Northerly wind not only invigorates the senses, it requires a light wind breaker to protect against the cold spray off the bow.
We enjoy an afternoon ripping back and forth from Niles Beach to Stage Fort Park, passing just south of the big rock off Ten Pound Island on every tack.
One of the many special gifts of spending a lot of time on Gloucester Harbor is the camaraderie you share with the other “regulars”. Even if you’ve never been formally introduced you “know” them by their boat, their seamanship and their reputations. Alex offers a smile, wave and nod to Capt. Heath Ellis and his passengers on the schooner “Thomas E. Lannon” as we fly by each other, starboard to starboard. The same pleasantries are exchange with the happy passengers aboard the Charter fishing boat “WEJACK”, anchored on the fish at one of Capt. Joe Arsenault’s “sweet spots” in the Outer Harbor.
What a great way to spend an afternoon. Bonding with Nature. Reading Wind and Wave and reacting in accordance and respect of their power, enriching your Soul.
Alex is a perfect example of the thousands of residents who have settled in Gloucester over the years and embraced it. He makes a valuable contribution to the community by not only appreciating the Heritage and the amazing natural resources, but, more importantly becoming part of them.
By the way, if you know, or get introduced to, Alex Thomas in the next few weeks, wish him luck. He and his dorymate, Donnie Favalora will be representing the U.S. in the Senior Division of the International Dory Races in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia on August 29th!