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Riding the tide, sailing the sea

Jonathan Johnson was born to sail. He just didn’t realize it until he was 24 years old.

About six years ago, he found a boat ride with a friend so inspiring, so comforting, that he decided to start a business to get even more people on the water.

He named it Kitsap Sailing School.

He got his business license a year ago and has since taught the finer points of setting the sails, guiding the rudder and docking the boat to dozens of students.

When Johnson is on the water, he looks at home.

The wind pulls through his blonde hair, and a smile whips across his face.

“That’s my favorite place to stand,” he says, pointing to the very front, or bow, of his vessel.

Johnson owns a 25 foot plane-bottom sailboat that he uses for lessons. He teaches both youth and adults.

“I have several customers that have bought boats without knowing how to sail them,” he said.

For those, Johnson just takes them out in their own, teaching them to raise the main sail and the jib — the often-lighter sail that goes in front — or how to tie the six knots that he says are necessary in boating.

He is a teacher that never misses an opportunity.

“There is no such thing as a passenger on a boat,” he said before a recent sail.

Moments later, Johnson had both the journalist on board and the photographer taking turns steering on the open sea, practicing 180 degree turns as well.

Johnson currently lives with his wife in a West Bremerton home. He moors his boat at the Brownsville Marina, a serenely set location just outside Bremerton’s city limits.

With boats at the marina with names like Prozac and Therapy, the secret is out that boating is a way to soothe your nerves.

“It is so different every time you do it,” he said, while on a recent sail.

“Right now it is peaceful but when the wind picks up it can be very exhilarating. I love the sound of the water trickling around the hull. And I love the feel of the cold wind in my hair.”

Boating first sparked Johnson’s interest in sixth grade when he read about it in an encyclopedia. A short while later he tried building a small boat and sailing it into the wind.

Then, years later, after he started boating with his friend Rick Patterson, he joined a boating club and volunteered his time teaching people how to sail.

He completed his full 365 days of training for his captain’s license.

“It took me five years to do that, working full time and raising a family,” he said.

Johnson used to work as a computer aided drafter but has traded that in for his goal of of teaching sailing five or six days a week.

He is currently financing six more small boats, called dingies, and regularly goes out two to three days a week teaching.

Eventually, he plans on starting a sailing club, where members can pay a yearly fee. That will cover boat rentals and lessons.

“There are a lot of people that would love to go sailing but can’t afford a boat,” he said.

To own and moor a boat, Johnson said it usually costs about $200 a month.

For more information about his sailing school, he can be reached at johnnytar@hotmail.com, or at his Web site www.kitsapsailing school.com.

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