Sailing Down the Road


The Failure

For millennia, ships were powered by sails. Prairie Schooners were normally drawn by oxen or mules, but a few people who had sailed windjammers went on to mount sails on their Prairie Schooners. This gave Herb’s brother, Jimmy, an idea.

Jimmy waited until the sore finger from the crawdad was forgotten before he struck again. He mounted a sail on a bicycle. With a mast about 8 feet high and a boom about 4 feet, it provided about 16 square feet of sail area for the 15-pound bicycle with a 60-pound kid. The power generated by that sail, in a 15-mph wind, was equivalent to an adult in excellent condition peddling that bike.

That formula did not take into account the tipping factor associated with the wind hitting the sail at an oblique angle.

Herb was selected to test it. With a gentle breeze, it moved the bicycle along effortlessly. The wind picked up to about 30 miles per hour. As the bike sped up, Herb had to lean further and further over to keep it right side up. Even though Jimmy and the older cousins had promised to run along beside the bicycle and stop it before arriving at a busy intersection, they were soon left way behind. Soon the bicycle was racing down the gravel road, but Herb had no way to stop it without crashing it. Just before Herb reached the busy intersection, he crashed the bike into the roadside ditch. The mast broke, and was torn from the bicycle frame, and the sail, one of his mother’s sheets, was shredded. Jimmy blamed Herb for another failure.

The Lesson

Even though Herb was bleeding and scraped up, he learned the power of a gentle breeze.

The Success

By having a gentle breeze flow from his mouth, Herb became a successful public speaker. Over time he won humorous speech contests, spoke at ASTM symposiums, and periodically was called from the audience to speak on the spur of the moment. He would just open his mouth and words would flow out with that gentle breeze.

We will not mention the time, with encouragement from his cousin Jack, he mounted enough sail on a canoe so that in a 10-mile-per-hour breeze, it would get up on plane. Jack insisted that the water was much softer than the gravel on the road. Jack was not in that canoe and the water was not softer than the gravel road. Herb never tried that again.

With a much smaller sail, he has enjoyed sailing a kayak for some years.


Author: Herb

In January, 2010, I left corporate America, and now I have my own business. Since I have never been able to focus on one item (Does that make me a scatter brain?), I divided my company into three divisions: Kayak guiding and instructing - specializing in nature kayaking, Building materials consultant - specializing in cements and forensics, and Writing - Stories w/ life lessons and construction books that are fun to read. Published books: The Stucco Book - The Basics, Animals I Have Hated, Grandpa, Help! Answers to Questions a Young Lady Would Never Ask Her Parents, Grandpa Helps Grandparents, Living with Cancer – That Intense Houseguest, Homes for Jubilee (June, 2016), and Kay pou Jubilee (in Haitian Creole) (August, 2016). Forthcoming Books: The Adhered Concrete Masonry Veneer Book, The Stucco Book - Forensics and Repairs, and Failing My Way to Success.

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