After over five months of sailing from the Pacific Northwest, down the west coast of North America, through the Panama Canal and on into the Caribbean, we were finally approaching St. Maarten. We were only 100 miles from our final destination, and a giddy feeling of anticipation had begun to set in.
“Jim! What’s wrong?” I shouted as I sprinted half-awake toward the companionway with Glen, our 11-year old son, close on my heels. The roar of our diesel engine thundering into reverse had yanked me from my sleep.
In the Northeast the arrival of spring brings much anticipated preparations for the start of the sailing season. In my case, this includes trailering Windseeker south to Island Heights in New Jersey where I have a yard commission the boat.
We at SAIL don’t tend to dwell on the darker side of the sailing life—boats lost, sailors drowned. The monthly “Voice of Experience” column has its share of drama, but it’s the kind in which, to channel the radio cliché, “luckily, no one was hurt.” Quite honestly we’d rather focus on reasons to go sailing rather give anyone a reason not to.
The news that NOAA was going to stop offering printed nautical charts was hardly a surprise, but all the same it hurts to see the end of an era. All we boomer types who spent our formative cruising years frowning over dog-eared paper charts, stamped with coffee cup rings, crisscrossed by part-erased pencil lines and dotted with semi-legible scribblings, will feel a warm fuzzy pang of sentimentality at the news.
After writing last month’s note about minimalist cruisers Thies Matzen and Kicki Ericson and their exploits in the much-traveled 30-foot sloop Wanderer III, I was overcome by some uncharacteristic soul-searching.
One beautiful August evening last summer we were sailing to meet friends in the Canadian Gulf Islands when the wind died. The tidal current just happened to be at peak ebb on Boundary Pass, so we furled the sails and fired up the engine.