Friday, February 16, 2007

There is something that truly stirs my soul when I see a sailboat outward bound into the evening, her bow squared away to the inlet rollers of Port Canaveral, her masthead tricolor glowing white, green and red, a solitary figure at the helm, feet braced against the cockpit, white foam thrown to either side of the hull as she slides into the longer waves of the blue Atlantic and picks up a southeast heading toward the sparkling jewels of the Bahamas. She is starting an adventure for her skipper and maybe her crew below stowing away food and supplies, starting dinner on the small stove and holding on with one hand until sea legs and balance return.

The picture is an oasis that beacons me, warms my heart and soul to see. I long to start my own passage—the sweet homesickness of missed family blended with the feeling of being home once again—my own way of being home—aboard my little boat, this cozy corner of protection on an endless bending plain of bluegreen white-capped sea. This exit from land and safety, this intentional separation from all the trappings of technology, transportation, and taxes, this departure is for me one of renewal in body and spirit: it gets my blood moving again, clears my head of land-bound mind numbing worries that pale in comparison to any sunset, and whispers to me the bubbling hiss of hull and keel knifing through the swells, the snap and crackle of new stiff sails pulling hard, the tension of rigging—the center of effort overcoming the center of resistance—that brings the tiller alive in my hand, and the swishy smooth straight wake aft as Florida drops below the horizon and stars dot the black night ahead.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

There’s a reason why they call it being “on the hard”. There is a cushioned softness to the Bristol when she is in the water. In completely still water tied at the marina, when you step from pier to her deck you feel it. It is not as if she leans or moves from the added weight to her decks; she doesn’t. It is more an acknowledgement that says…yes I am floating, yes I am ready to go.

Over the past 20 years of ownership, I had lost the uniqueness of that feeling, that cushioned floating softness of my boat in the water—after all, other than brief visits to boatyards a few times, she waited patiently for me to step aboard for two decades. But for the past 2 years she has been on the hard, and feels no different from a room in my house when I climb the ladder and step onto her decks. No softness, no flirting with me that she is ready to take me somewhere. Just blocked on my driveway, a solid rock hard keel sitting on two ancient railroad ties, sitting on 50 year old concrete tied to the earth. It is difficult to be patient sometimes and momentarily I want to rush all this work to completion just to be able to feel her floating again. Another year maybe and I will.