October 21, 2017

What To Do With A Big Stick

by Pam
I just got back from my 5th Laser Masters Worlds with Doug and I’ve drawn a line in the sand. Never again!!  Not ever, no way, no exceptions!! Something has to change.

Every year, Doug leaves a week early and I join him a day or two before the event starts. I plan my packing so that everything (all my stuff, all the US team shirts, and Doug’s last minute forgotten items) easily fits into my luggage, which is all wheeled so that I can handle it unassisted. On the return trip, Doug and I travel together and I am punished for my efficiency.

Doug travels with this massive, 50”, soft-sided, duffel bag that could easily fit a grown man inside. The reason -  it is the only luggage he has been able to find that his 47” hiking stick will fit into. For years I have  tried to get him to switch to something else and for years I end up getting all of my luggage with one hand while dragging half of his with the other. 

This year, while hurriedly dragging his body bag off the train the middle of Milan, ITA, I just started laughing hysterically and almost wet myself right then and there. Remember, he is recovering from two broken ribs. One train, one bus, two shuttles, one hotel, and two planes, all of which all seemed to be connected with lots of walking in between, not a lot of time to connect, and few carts or porters available. We alternated between dragging, tripping, swearing, dropping, and desperately hunting for carts or assistance all the way home. Every single person that helped us, or almost tripped over us, asked what was in the bag with Doug telling them it was his cousin or grandmother. 

By the time we got to the second to last airport, I was done. Broken ribs or not, my hands and muscles were trashed and he was going to get that damn bag himself. I went ahead with my luggage and when I looked back, there was this helpless looking, old man, with both hands behind his back dragging one side of this massive bag and his knees were literally buckling as he struggled to take each step. I struggled not to laugh out loud but let this go one for about 100 yards then finally stopped him and asked if he was finally ready to burn the dang bag when we got home. He agreed and I pointed to the carts that were lined up outside that he had not yet seen. When we finally arrived home, Doug could not understand why his ribs hurt more now than they did the entire time he was competing. 

So … for all his talent on the race course, he has not solved this issue and it would appear that everyone else already has. How do you travel with your hiking stick?


  1. In the RS Aero Class you charter your tiller and extension (and the sail and the lines) with the boat.

    Problem solved.

    1. Interesting. So everyone uses the exact same type of extension and there are no personal preferences? I wonder if that will change as the class grows.

  2. I carried it over my shoulder with the help of a yoga strap and negotiate myself (and the tiller/extension) through every check point. Having a carbon tiller helped a lot, as security seemed to be more wary about metal objects. I didn't cross the Atlantic, so I don't know what TSA has to say about this, but I did need to transfer, so I quite some discussions. Also, as a female I probably had an easier time to pull this off. :)
    Because I was also curious how others dealt with this issue, I have asked around. I found that some sailors had sawn their tiller in half and put it back together with an insert/inner piece on the spot. Others used extendable (telescopic) tiller extensions.

  3. How about these ideas?

    1) Put tiller and extension into stiff cardboard tube, and check that in. Better if you just need to bring your tiller and extension.
    2) If you need to carry tiller and blades, put them all into a gun case like this one: https://smile.amazon.com/Pelican-1750-Rifle-Case-Green/dp/B0017KO1IO

    1. The tube makes sense but checking it in counts as an extra bag and American Airlines, which is what we usually catch out of Dallas, charges a steep $100 fee (each way) for more than one checked bag. As for the gun case, the dimensions of the checked bags cannot exceed 64 inches, so not only would it be a second bag but it would be an oversized bag so there would be an extra bag fee and an oversized bag fee which I think is about $100 too. Hence the dilemma.

    2. This article suggests using a golf bag: https://internationalsailingacademy.com/2016/07/3-ways-to-fly-with-a-tiller-extension/

      Here's a link to a golf bag:

      Whichever bag you buy, make sure it's long enough for your tiller extension.


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