Since I live at the lake, I’ve been on various watercraft including power boats, pontoons, kayaks and recently, even a stand-up paddleboard, but one method of water transport I have shy-ed away from is sailing. Even though I grew up in Maine, a sailors’ paradise, I never had the pleasure or opportunity to set sail. I was introduced to a local Rowan County resident, Tim Isenberg. So local, in fact, that he lives in the next cove from me. We discussed the merits of sailing over the other motorized means of transportation on water.

At a young 72 years, Tim finds time to help others with repairs of their boats and sails. He goes out when he can and when the wind is right. “I hope to see more sailboats out on the lake. Its free to enjoy. Sailing is not just technical, it’s romantic. The wind is constantly moving, the sailor is always moving; trimming sails and keeping sight of what is going around them and yet the activity is relaxing at the same time,” commented Tim.


Local Rowan County resident and owner of Isenberg Cabinet Shop in Salisbury, Tim Isenberg, sailing on High Rock Lake.


Woodworking Leads to a Passion for Sailing

Tim and his three brothers spent time fishing on High Rock Lake when they were young. His maternal family is originally from the High Rock Lake area in Panther Creek, so like a duck taking to water, he did the same. His interest in sailing was piqued when his son, Douglas, inspired him to take up boat building years ago when they built a Bolger Tortoise sailboat. Its sail was even made locally at Taylor Mattress Company. Tim’s profession for more than 30 years has been and continues to be woodworking. He and his wife, Carol, own Isenberg Cabinet Shop in Salisbury. His love of sailing and passion for wood; reclaimed, drift, or otherwise melds his two worlds. Today, Tim sails and has competed in several regattas in North Carolina, specifically in Davidson County and Cape Look Out. Note: High Rock Lake has a marina for sailboats, Skipjacks Harbor at Yachtsmen’s Point.


Tim Isenberg sailing on High Rock Lake in Salisbury, NC.


Kraken Jager

Currently, Tim has created a work of art, a 17-foot vessel called The Core Sound 17. The hull shape is derived from the dead rise spritsail skiffs which were utilized all over North Carolina for fishing and transportation. This style of boat is efficient, and many are restored and can be seen at the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort. The blueprints for Tim’s sailing vessel were purchased from B and B Yacht Designs located in eastern North Carolina at the north bank of the Neuse River. “100% wooden boat construction is still the way to go – covered in epoxy which is waterproof and yields a good strength to weight ratio,” Tim shares. This is the key to boat building and sailing because it shouldn’t sink. Profound. The sailboat can hold up to three passengers, is designed for shallow water, and does not have a motor. So, rowing or paddling out and away from the dock is the mode of transport until the wind catches the main sail. The Core Sound weighs just 350 pounds, and the rig is very efficient. It is not low (you won’t hit your head like in the movies), and the wind behind and off the beam is controlled well. Oh, the Core Sound 17 does have a name – Kraken Jager. German for a Scandinavian sea creature and Jager means “hunter”. Tim mentioned that any boat over a certain number of feet should have a name to give it personality and perhaps an attitude for the skipper while out on the water.


Tim’s Core Sound 17 named Kraken Jager.


It’s A Maine Connection

The Isenbergs has spent much time up in Maine, my home state, and most recently just this past July visiting family and learning about Carol’s Maine roots as a “Downeasterner”. Tim’s oldest daughter worked for L.L. Bean for more than 20 years, and even their restored High Rock Lake home had a Maine/Bean feel to it. Tim and I got to talking about the scenic imagery of the Maine/New England coast with its abundance of lobster shacks, villages, and islands along the coastline and how it is romanticized by movies.


We All Have A Little Pirate In Us

Did you know that many current phrases are derived from sailing or pirate lingo? I am sure most of you have heard of ‘Even Keel’, ‘Above Board’, ‘Batten Down the Hatches’, and ‘Clean Bill of Health’. These and many other terms and phrases have been taken from sailing vernacular and have made their way into our everyday conversations. Even the term ‘figurehead’, meaning one without real power, is borrowed from back in the day as large vessels placed a carved, wooden decoration or figure on the bow of the ship to appeal to a certain group – Pirates of the Caribbean anyone?

So, let’s grab some grub and ‘Dutch Courage’ at Tamarac, then cut and run when we are squared-away.

If you do see me out in the water, sailing, rowing, or motorboating, wave and give a shout out. And, if you happen to see Tim in his Core Sound 17, yell out a big thanks for keeping sailing a mainstay on our lake.

Happy sailing!


For good measure, here are the basic Nautical Terms:

  1. Point of Sail – The boat’s direction relative to the wind. For example, if you’re going straight into the wind, your point of sail is called “in irons”. Note: This isn’t a good place to be! If the wind is blowing straight over the side of the boat, that’s called a “beam reach”.
  2. Aft – The back of a ship. If something is located aft, it is at the back of the sailboat. The aft is also known as the stern.
  3. Bow – The front of the ship. Knowing the location of the bow is important for defining two of the other most common sailing terms: port (left of the bow) and starboard (right of the bow).
  4. Port – Port is always the left-hand side of the boat when you are facing the bow. Because “right” and “left” can become confusing, port is used to define the left-hand side of the boat as it relates to the bow, or front.
  5. Starboard – Starboard is always the right-hand side of the boat when you are facing the bow; used to define the right-hand side of the boat as it relates to the bow, or front.
  6. Leeward – Also known as lee, leeward is the direction opposite to the way the wind is currently blowing (windward).
  7. Windward – The direction in which the wind is currently blowing. Sailboats tend to move with the wind, making the windward direction an important sailing term to know.
  8. Boom – The horizontal pole which extends from the bottom of the mast. Adjusting the boom towards the direction of the wind is how the sailboat can harness wind power in order to move forward or backwards.
  9. Helm: Where you steer the boat. Usually this is a big wheel, but on smaller boats it can be a tiller, which is basically a long wooden stick. Either of these can be used to control the boat’s rudder.
  10. Rudder – Located beneath the boat, the rudder is a flat piece of wood, fiberglass, or metal that is used to steer the ship. Larger sailboats control the rudder via a wheel, while smaller sailboats will have a steering mechanism directly aft.
  11. Keel: The keel is a long, heavy fin on the bottom of the boat that sticks down into the water. It provides stability and is the reason why modern sailboats are nearly impossible to capsize.
  12. Lines: On board a boat, this is what you say instead of “ropes”.
  13. Mainsail: The big triangular sail just aft of the sailboat’s mast. As the name suggests, this is the boat’s largest and most important sail. Running along its bottom edge, the mainsail has a thick pole called the boom.
  14. Tacking – This basic sailing maneuver refers to turning the bow of the boat through the wind so that the wind changes from one side of the boat to the other side. The boom of a boat will always shift from one side to the other when performing a tack or a jibe.
  15. Jibing – The opposite of tacking, this refers to turning the stern of the boat through the wind so that the wind changes from one side of the boat to the other side. The boom of a boat will always shift from one side to the other when performing a tack or a jibe. Jibing is a less common technique than tacking, since it involves turning a boat directly into the wind.
  16. Heeling: This is the term for when a sailboat leans over in the water, pushed by the wind. There’s nothing else like the thrill of heeling over as your sails fill and your speed picks up!