This season has been full of adventure. My first offshore sail. Ocean deliveries of awesome boats. The Marion to Bermuda race. Overnight distance races. Some great heavy wind days. Resume building and experience wise it’s been an exceptional season.
It’s been so amazing that I almost forgot to go cruising. Get a bunch of friends together do a day sail on Saturday to a nearby harbor, enjoy an evening and morning ashore somewhere new and then sail back on Sunday. It seems that my friends missed the cruising as well because it filled up as soon as I sent out the email; even though I had arranged two boats.
The first day was a brisk port tack upwind sail under blade only making 7-8 knots. We could have put up more sail and made another knot but we we in no rush and the wind against current was giving the non-sailors aboard a fun ride. We scooped a small wave or two up with the bow and somebody described the experience as “a wind powered roller coaster”. Most aboard huddled together behind the dodger for shelter while enjoying the ride. I forgot how much I enjoy watching beginners have new experiences sailing. Getting to see the mix of excitement and apprehension on their faces as the boat heels and pitches and bounces and pounds. We ran the chute all the way home on Sunday; when we hoisted the chute the boat powered up and came alive everyone aboard was all smiles. We had a new crew helm a few gybes as we glided back into the harbor.
There was no rush to set the chute, it went up when it was ready. Nobody was pushing to hoist more sail upwind; we started and ended the weekend with our small jib. We could steer to make boat handling easier instead of being slaves to the course. We picked our departure time to make the day’s sailing go as smoothly as possible. We were in no rush. These are each small considerations but combined they made my experience of the weekend’s sailing relaxing even though Saturday’s conditions were more challenging than all of the sailing I’ve done since returning from Bermuda. I remembered that tranquil sailing is one of my favorite kinds of sailing.
Our time ashore was also tranquil. No need to squeeze into a crowded harbor with a bunch of other race boats. There was no tent party to attend. No prepaid drink tickets to burn through. I didn’t run into anyone that I knew on the island other than the folks we had brought with us. No huge line for the showers. Some of the crew rushed off to a town on the other side of the Vineyard but I opted to stick around and stroll nearby; taking in the slower pace of island life. Some of us had a late night but it was unhurried contrasted with a night out in the city. I got up early Sunday morning and watched the sunrise. I strolled the streets as the residents geared up for their workday: before work jogs, Sunday papers, breakfasts and morning coffees. Observing the cordial environment in which the residents slowly start their day is why early morning is my favorite time of the day in harbor towns. I could feel the town stretch out with a big yawn just before I decided to climb back aboard and get a few more hours of sleep.
Don’t get me wrong, if I had the year to do over I’d make the same choices; I’m very pleased with how far I have come and the experiences I’ve accumulated this year. Yet during this year’s rush to become a better sailor I lost sight of aspects of sailing that lead me to commit to sailing in the first place. This weekend’s intermission got me back in touch with the serene side of sailing and am a happier sailor for it.