Sunday, December 22, 2013

Some days

All the potential for a great sail including snow capped cliffs along the shore
Oh well.
Getting aboard a sail boat is not something to be done without real consideration.  Once aboard and the lines have been thrown off it is not as simple as pulling over to get off the boat, should the experience go badly.

I have been at sea, off shore, and been in the situation such that all I could think about was getting off ship.  In that case, when the vessel touched the dock, I had my seabag on my shoulder and I was off as soon as lines were tied and the boat safe, my commitment complete, I was gone.  Sadly, years latter, that boat was latter lost at sea, fortunately the crew was rescued.

Bad situations like that one are usually not about the sea, the boat, or sailing.  In my case, they have always been about people and the different attitudes we have about what it is to go sailing and what it is to do it responsibly.  Even a large boat can seem very small if people are at odds.

I like to sail, love to sail.  I don't care for a motor and just find it a required tool in todays society. Because marina's are so crowded and those crowds are usually in a hurry and think of boats responding and handling like their cars I use a motor to get me out of the marina and then shut it down as soon as I can.  I also hate the noise of an engine, and the smell too.  Sailing starts almost immediately with this method.

Down wind, beam reach, or close hauled it is all sailing to me and part of the joy of the thing is getting the boat and the wind and tide to take me where I want to go, no matter what their state.  Setting up a vessel so that it can handle most all conditions and get us out and then back is an interesting challenge to me.  It is a never ending puzzle, or game, and always can use some refinement.

Some people want only to sail off the wind, no tacking, as little healing as possible.  Wouldn't want to spill their beer!  Those points of sail are fine, but motoring to get to wind that suits a point of sail, for recreation especially, is not my idea of fine or fun.  One of the greatest things about sail boats is how "clean" it is.  By that I mean that once the boat is built it doesn't really have to pollute thru waste or noise or even by leaving a trail in the water, yet it has more accommodation than any land or air based transport.

The bow cuts into a wave and spray flies thru the air, over the coach roof and into the cockpit.  Water runs along the deck and out the scuppers to mix with the gurgling wave that closes up after the boat leaves it and in moments the sea looks as if we were never there.

The wind shapes the surface of the water, makes the waves.  It pushes on the sails and runs over their surface.  In the rigging it sounds like a violin or harp and accompanies the percussion sounds of the hardware and the creaking of the hull or the shifting of gear down below.  Once the wind is past the boat it is just as strong as it was before it touched her sails, undiminished.

Even I am little taxed by the work the boat does.  I mind the tiller but can set it and walk about or sit and ponder the sea and sky, all the while the little boat travels on carrying my bed, my stove, my books, most all the comforts I could need.  Even under oars or a pole a boat can make the power of a single man move otherwise impossible loads and suspend them above the ocean floor.

I sometimes need to remind myself of why I don't invite just anybody aboard my boat and why I don't accept offers to sail on most other boats.  We are all different in our wants, priorities and comfort levels.  We all sail for different reasons.  It isn't really a bad thing, but rather, a thing to be given honest consideration so that each sailor can get what he wants from his sail, can go where he wants, and the way he wants, and in a happy ship.

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