When I was a kid, my uncle would tow a beautiful white sailboat from Georgia to western New York, and moor it on the lake where our family met each year.

When I was a kid, my uncle would tow a beautiful white sailboat from Georgia to western New York, and moor it on the lake where our family met each year.

Uncle Dave had about 20 nieces and nephews, so rides were limited. Being asked to board was a special occasion, and I made the most of short trips beneath Lake Chautauqua's blue July skies.

I knew only not to get in the way and, if we were allowed to troll behind holding onto old seat cushions, not to let go. Dreams of my very own boat were annually crushed by my dad's insistence that the best times in a boater's life are the day he buys his boat and the day he gets rid of it.

Limited maritime knowledge was fine until I discovered a crucial fringe benefit of dating my girlfriend: her father's stately wooden dinghy, Cosmo, which he built by hand and runs regularly on Hoover Reservoir. Not knowing a jib line from a jack of spades is now a liability - a millstone around the cultured and capable vibe I like to project.

Luckily, the Hoover Sailing Club has dealt with people like me.

Headquartered from a marina and clubhouse on Smothers Road, the friendly organization offers two courses for landlocked Ohioans looking to get their feet wet. Even older folks with no experience can learn to helm a decent ship, said Bill Henning, who runs the club's adult education program after he learned to sail late in life.

"At first, the joke was that when I would come in to dock, people would get up and watch," Henning said, holding the tiller of his Highlander during a fantastic sail Saturday afternoon. "It was like dinner and a show."

Beginner sessions teach the basics of sailing: safety procedures, knots, rigging, wind dynamics, reading weather and more. An intermediate course expands on those topics to prepare students for racing or owning a boat.

Each of the three beginner sessions remaining this summer includes classes from 6-9 p.m. Monday and Thursday for three weeks. A new beginner course begins June 22, with intermediate classes starting July 13. Adult classes cost $155.

"I have more fun with the adults than I do with the kids - and I have a lot of fun with them," Henning added. "You're in the water soon, and by the time you're done, you can rig and sail a small boat."

Just don't forget to put in the plug.

Sail Speak

Like the French, sailors have a different word for everything. Here are 10 terms to know before getting your sea legs.

Cleat:Small clamp that secures a line

Halyard:A rope used for hoisting sails

Heeling:Leaning to one side when catching wind

Jib:A smaller triangular sail at the bow

Mainsail:Big sail attached to the boom

Tacking:Turning the bow so that the wind changes from one side to the other

Trimming:Adjusting the angle of the sails

Tiller:A piece of wood attached to the rudder, which helps steer

Port:Left-hand side

Starboard:Right-hand side

Sailing Way

Here are three other clubs in Central Ohio that offer sailing lessons for adults.

Alum Creek Sailing Association


Alum Creek reservoir's sailing cub offers adult and youth education in summer and fall, as well as regular races on Wednesday evenings through October

Wind Over Water Sailing School


Based on the Hoover Reservoir, the school offers two-day comprehensive courses on small-boat sailing and windsurfing for adults and kids

Leatherlips Sailing School

Web: columbus.sailingforums.com

Located on the O'Shaughnessy Reservoir, this academy runs a youth sailing camp and adult classes