From the Editor: Days of Joy

Surely everyone who has sailed offshore has experienced that same elevation of the spirit, an upwelling of the life force, or whatever you choose to call it; you’d have to be dead inside not to.
Author:
Publish date:
SettingSail0812

“It was a day to make your heart glad. It was a clear day, a sunny day, a day of brightness and splendour. The sun was glorious in the sky. The sky was of a blue unspeakable. We were tearing along a splendour of sea that made you sing. Far as one could see there was the water shining and shaking. Blue it was, and of a dazzling brilliance in the sun. It rose up in hills and in ridges. It smashed into foam and roared. It towered up again and toppled. It mounted and shook in a rhythm, in a tune, in a music. One could have flung one’s body to it as a sacrifice. One longed to be in it, to be a part of it, to be beaten and banged by it. It was a wonder and a glory and a terror. It was a triumph, it was royal, to see such beauty.”

I didn’t write those words, though I wish I had. That honor goes to the great British poet John Masefield, recalling that of all his days at sea, this one stood out “above nearly all my days, as a day of joy.” Surely everyone who has sailed offshore has experienced that same elevation of the spirit, an upwelling of the life force, or whatever you choose to call it; you’d have to be dead inside not to.

We sailors are blessed, for we can also find our days of joy closer to home. “The sweetest, prettiest morning that God’s sun ever shone on. The air so cool and fresh, the sunshine so bright and warm. The river narrow and bordered either by big overhanging trees or wide, sweeping meadows freshly green. Mile after mile as through an English land in June. We entered the Delaware and Chesapeake canal where it was still more beautiful with the Scotch broom a glorious yellow and all the other flowers nodding from the banks. The canal itself taking reflection of the mass of foliage was an indescribably, translucent green and all the world was wonderful.”

That’s Henry Plummer, from his 1912 cruise in a catboat as described in the classic The Boy, Me, and the Cat. Truly, there’s a poet inside every sailor, though perhaps we should be grateful that it remains concealed in most of us—except perhaps in appreciation of the joy of being alive on a perfect sailing day, a day to make your heart glad.

Photo by Andrew Sims

Related

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com No chafe, safe stay  If you’re leaving the boat unattended for a longish period, there’s a lot to be said for cow-hitching the shorelines, as this sailor did. They’ll never let go, and so long as the ...read more

belize600x

Charter Special: Belize

It would be hard to imagine a more secure spot than the Sunsail base on the outskirts of the beachside community of Placencia, Belize. The entire marina is protected by a robust seawall with a channel scarcely a few boatlengths across. It’s also located far enough up Placencia ...read more

DSC00247

DIY: a Top-to-Bottom Refit

I found my sailing “dream boat” in the spring of 1979 while racing on Lake St. Clair in Michigan. Everyone had heard about the hot new boat in town, and we were anxiously awaiting the appearance of this new Pearson 40. She made it to the starting line just before the race ...read more

01-oysteryachts-regattas-loropiana2016_063

Light-air Sails and How to Handle Them

In the second of a two-part series on light-air sails, Rupert Holmes looks at how today’s furling gear has revolutionized sail handling off the wind. Read part 1 here. It’s easy to look at long-distance racing yachts of 60ft and above with multiple downwind sails set on roller ...read more

HanseCharles

Video Tour: Hanse 348

“It’s a smaller-size Hanse cruiser, but with some big-boat features,” says SAIL’s Cruising Editor, Charles J. Doane. At last fall’s Annapolis Boat Show, Doane had a chance to take a close look at the new Hanse 348. Some of the boat’s highlights include under-deck galleries for ...read more

amalfitown

Charter Destination: Amalfi Coast

Prego! Weeks after returning from our Italian flotilla trip last summer, I was still feeling the relaxed atmosphere of the Amalfi Coast. It’s a Mediterranean paradise, with crystal-clear waters, charming hillside towns and cliffside villages, plenty of delicious food and wine, ...read more

image005

Inside or Outside When Sailing the ICW

Last April, my wife, Marjorie, and I decided to take our Tartan 4100, Meri, north to Maryland from her winter home in Hobe Sound, Florida. This, in turn, meant deciding whether to stay in the “Ditch” for the duration or go offshore part of the way. Although we had both been ...read more

MK1_30542

SailGP: There’s a New Sailing Series in Town

San Francisco was the venue of the biggest come-from-behind victory in the history of the America’s Cup when Oracle Team USA beat Emirates Team New Zealand in 2013, so it seems only fitting that the first American round of Larry Ellison’s new SailGP pro sailing series will be ...read more