Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sail Surfing in the Moonlight!

Being on the water suddenly brings a peace over my mind. There's something about it! The beauty of the wind on the water and the ripples over its face, perform an amazing miracle in your heart and take you away from the day to day stress that builds up. Suddenly all that matters now is solving little problems like where you will turn the boat next!

I turn and tack to the left (port side) and the sails luff as it loses wind. As the boat changes direction, the wind catches the sails in the 'wrong direction' and they back-wind. The wind being in the sails the wrong way puts pressure on the sails and the boat completes the turn. Simultaneously, when the pressure reaches its highest point in the sails, I let go of the ropes that hold the sail and pull the opposite ones in. Now with the sails pulled in on the right direction the boat takes off. The timing of all this is a graceful thing to watch and experience.

Tacking out of the first inlet, I came to the larger body of water - the main channel. Here the sun was just over the horizon but it was still strong and bright at least half an hour before sunset. I put my sunglasses on as the rays of the sun were often in my face as I came up into the wind and tacked again. But the sunlight was not hot and burning like in the mid-day. Rather the rays were just exciting to watch as they flickered and shone between the masts in the marina.

By sunset I had made it to the last stretch of the harbor and a sweet double masted boat with a gaff rig sail (like a boat from the early 1900's) greeted me. I took three pictures of it as it passed by in the orange afterglow.

I was getting thirsty so I remember my Dr Pepper and thought how nice that would go with my chicken sandwich. But when I got the Dr Pepper out, it was warm, so I put it in the cockpit for the wind to chill it. The wind was starting to chill me too so I put on my windbreaker, but later went for my scarf and gloves too. Even though October in
Southern California is still warm, you wouldn't know it being out on the water! The afterglow fades with amazing deep reds and maroons, so that the sky was almost crimson. Out at sea, the sky is so clear and clean, you can see the lights on the mountains some twenty to thirty miles away! The wind blows from the south east this evening. It makes sailing easier as I don't have to tack much and can just head right out to sea.
After a time of cutting through the swells and enjoying the motion of being lifted by the waves, I turn back towards home.
After tacking around, I notice that the waves are behind me now and the wind - which usually is also behind me - is coming from the beach instead. This is really great news because I can now bring my sails in real tight on a close reach and balance the boat really easily. This means I can sit on the bow pulpit without having to worry about steering and watch the boat surf the waves all by itself. So I put on my life jacket and maneuvered on hands and knees over the moving cabin top to the bow rail and sat down. I held on tight to the grip rope. The waves behind the boat first lift the stern and then begin lifting the keel. When the wave moves under the bow, the whole boat begins to rock and slide down and through the wave! Its so fun and exhilarating. Suddenly I then noticed that the deck was flooded with bright white moonlight! I looked up into the dark sky and saw a full moon shining down on me. What an experience. I can't say I remember this ever happening to me while I was out sailing - and I've been going out twice a week for three years now. Usually the night is very dark at sea and the stars and few lights on shore are all you can see. To have the moonlight, the wind and waves all in my favor was very rare and amazing.

When I came back in the harbor, I had to say goodbye to that experience. But sailing home with the wind on my back was not half bad either and now I noticed I had a cold Dr Pepper to enjoy it with too!

No comments:

Post a Comment