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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Gentle Winds, Stormy Memories

Right now I’m out on my boat. There is no wind, so I’m just floating out here watching the ripples of the water and writing this story. As I sit here, I can hear a seal swimming around my boat coming up every so often for air. A few motor boats pass by with their engines revved up and making a lot of noise. The distance I have got to this evening has been from rowing. Fortunately my boat is 22 feet so it is still ‘rowable’ – but only just. There is a trifle of a wind – you can barely feel it but it does empower the sails a bit and I am progressing along – at a snail’s pace. But I am in no rush. The reason I love to get away each week to go sailing is because I love the solitude and the beauty of the water, sky and sea. Just a few minutes ago, before the world turned dark, the sky was this amazing gold and orange afterglow from the sun’s departure. There was still no wind at that time but there’s nothing like being on the water when the sun sets, so I set sail anyway!
You never know what you’re going to experience out at sea. Some weeks I come down to the Marina and a beautiful wind is blowing. These days are fantastic for sailing and I wouldn’t miss them. Other times a thick fog has set in and sailing out in that sometimes makes me disoriented, dizzy and sick. But if there’s at least a mile or two visibility, the water is very mysterious and beautiful. Some days its rainig and the rain drops on the water are captivating. Other times a fierce wind may be blowing. Finding all the courage I can to go out in it, I set the smallest sails and get all my safety gear ready. Then I challenge each new obstacle as it comes. If it gets too fierce and I get really scared, I turn around and come back. But that is rare. Going out to sea on those days, the sea is like a fuming cauldron. The waves are big and engaging them is not for a coward. It feels a bit like riding a bucking bronco except with a twenty five foot mast and sails. Just to keep your balance and stay on your feet is a challenge. The waves come at you with ferocity and boiling over with white water. The boat plunges forward head on to cut through the waves defenses. At first the wave approaches with its ‘head’ lifted high and looks like it will take you down. As it advances upon you, the boat quickly rises with the motion and then you hit its white top. White spray flies everywhere and even comes after me – fifteen feet away in the cockpit! Sometimes I’m able to avoid its wetness but other times it nails me. The boat plows on and suddenly you find yourself on the back side of the wave. The bow pushes onward into thin air and then suddenly slips down the wave at a steep angle. The motion in itself can be an enemy to your stomach depending on how often you sail and your personal tolerance for the sea. Sliding down the wave you then repeat the process again – except that this next time you may have to deal with the angle of the wind having changed and have to pull in or let out the sails too, or find that the next wave is coming in the wrong direction and have to turn the tiller and make the boat face the wave in just the right way. And if anything goes wrong, the stress instantly doubles or triples in force very fast. This is when sailing stops being fun – at least until you come up with a solution to the problem. And a word of caution: sailing in heavy winds can itself be very stressful and dangerous if you’re not prepared and have had experience with it. Of course, I have my limits too. So, all in all, it’s fun to write about – but completely a different story being out in it.
So that is the world of sailing. Right now my world is just extremely calm as I wait for the wind to pick up after dark. As I speak, a little zephyr of wind is starting to blow and it may turn into a real breeze that I can sail with. My sail is starting to gain some shape – so we will see! If tonight is like one of those rare evenings when the wind shuts down for good after dark, then I will soon dock my boat and head out to sea in my kayak. And that is fun too. I could write a great story on that as well – especially the evening I brought the kayak up on the beach and got flipped around by breakers! But when it comes down to it, nothing beats sailing along with three foot waves, a mile off shore; watching the lights on land pass by with the wind in your sails! And that’s what I’m hoping for tonight. Wish me fair winds!

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I made this blog because I wanted to share my adventures at sea with all of you! Some of you may be wishing they had their own boat or just want to 'get away' even if just at home on the web. So each week I decided to write down my feelings while out at sea and share them with you. If you enjoy them, please feel free to come back here weekly and see what's new. Also please share the blog with your friends and with those who you know like sailing!



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