Skip to main content

Windshifts: Sailing Daydreams

I am lounging in the cockpit with a lemonade in hand, sunglasses on my face and flip-flops nearby. The boom above my head drifts from side to side in perfect time with the small waves.

I stare, intimidated, at the mountain of books on my desk. It is made of soft wood, nothing special, but it is starting to sag. I worry it’s only a matter of time before gravity takes over and it collapses under the weight. Looking at my planner, my fear is confirmed. My homework list doesn’t even fit inside today’s neatly allotted box: calculate 10 problems for algebra from my never-before-opened college textbook, read two chapters for AP Euro and prepare for The Book Of Lost Things Socratic seminar. The list stretches on like an expanse of stormy sky. It is 1800 by the time I get home from cross-country practice and frantically begin working. 

Little things, like the summer breeze blowing through my window to flutter my papers, begin to distract me. The summer exhales gently. Its breath bangs the halyards on the mast, making them chime pleasantly and methodically. 

Clang! I am lounging in the cockpit with a lemonade in hand, sunglasses on my face and flip-flops nearby. The boom above my head drifts from side to side in perfect time with the small waves. These lap against the beach nearby, where happy suntanned children shout with joy and splash about in the water. 

Clang! Families on shore relax under bright sun umbrellas and on equally bright beach towels while their children frolic on the beach. Behind them the sand dunes roll on, looking delicious to the eye. 

Clang! My eyes drift up to the seamless sky, and I am amazed by the blue and white colors I see there. I look over to our shiny aluminum mast, an industrial outcast by comparison. That mast is a piece of work. Without it, our boat wouldn’t win races, nor would we be able to calmly cruise about Lake Michigan. Balanced and poised, it represents strength. Its colossal height makes it seem vigorous, whether we’re racing or cruising. Yet its matte grey hues make it appear modest and unimportant.

Clang! Yellow and blue lines drape down to the dull white deck. Symbolizing unity, that well-loved deck holds the entire boat together. It has endured some rigorous beatings, from the parading of our dog to the leaping of our wet feet. Over the years, it has been carefully cleaned, foolishly nicked. 

Clang! I set my lemonade down on the cockpit table beside me and place my tanned feet on the deck’s rough fiberglass; the sensation forces my lips to open in a smile. Carelessly throwing my sunglasses into the sunlit cabin, I duck under the boom and plop myself down in a hammock strung in the rigging. 

Clang! The breeze picks up, bringing with it the scent of summer. The faint wind shifts my hair as it rests on a soft pillow. 

Clang! Clang! Clang! I expect to find the webbing of my hammock supporting me, but instead I’m in my bed. Clang! Clang! Clang! I open my eyes and I am staring back at my desk. Clang! Clang! Clang! It’s my obnoxious alarm; my hand slaps the snooze button and my eyes register the time. It’s 1930 hours and I still haven’t started my homework. I return to my desk and settle in for the grueling work ahead of me. But first, I steal one last glance out my window, knowing that somewhere nearby, the same breeze that’s fluttering through my homework is stirring the halyards on our boat, which waits patiently just the other side of this next algebra problem…

Illustration by Jan Adkins

Related

05-DSC_0638

Charter: Lake Tahoe

A sail on Lake Tahoe has been on my bucket list since the day I first laid eyes on it, and come hell or high water, I decided I was going to someday charter a boat there. North America’s largest and deepest alpine lake, Tahoe sits at 6,225ft above sea level and straddles the ...read more

East-River-Rapids

Escape from New York Part 1

I was never supposed to take my boat through New York City. After getting sucked backward through the Cape Cod Canal on my way south from Maine, when the speed of the current exceeded the maximum speed of my little electric auxiliary, I wanted nothing to do with Hell Gate and ...read more

LEAD-Celeste-in-the-Tuamotu

A Watermaker Upgrade

As a classic-boat sailor, I’ve long held that simpler is the better. I still think this is true: a simpler boat is cheaper, she has less gadgets to break down and there’s a certain satisfaction in knowing you’re able to handle a bit of discomfort. Thus, for a long time, I sailed ...read more

01-LEAD-IDECsport_180919_032

Sailing Speed Records

Although the 1903 defender of the America’s Cup, Reliance, was deemed a “racing freak”—the boat pushed design rules to their limit and couldn’t be beaten, at least in very specific conditions—designer Nat Herreshoff was nonetheless onto something. A century later, purpose-built ...read more

BVIFeetup

Chartering with Non-sailors

Three tips on managing the madness First-time charterers and first-time sailors aren’t at all the same thing. One group may struggle with beginner chartering issues, like sailing a multihull, catching a mooring or dealing with base personnel. For the other group, though, ...read more

AdobeStock_455372159

A Gulf Stream Crossing at Night

Even the dome of light glowing above the city behind us had disappeared as if swallowed in a gulp by Noah’s whale. The moon was absent. Not a star twinkled overhead. The night was so dark we could have been floating in a pot of black ink. The only artificial lights to be seen ...read more

00-Lead-549215sJL2uLEa

Summer Sailing Programs

Every year, countless parents find themselves navigating the do’s and don’ts of enrolling their children in a summer learn-to-sail program for the first time. While the prospect of getting your kid on the water is exciting, as a sailing camp program director, there are a lot of ...read more

ntm

Notice to Mariners: U.S.A! U.S.A! (Well, sorta…)

Some thoughts on a couple of recent developments on the U.S. racing scene that are more than a little at odds. To start with, congratulations to the US Sailing Team (USST) and its outstanding showing at the 53rd French Olympic Week regatta in Hyeres, France, with not one but ...read more