Sailing

When I posted my introduction, someone asked to hear more about my sailing exploits, preME. So here's a stab at that idea. A bit of purple prose, way off-topic!

North by east we fly, two days out of Gibralter, with the High Sierras silhouetted in the sunset far off the port beam. Seas wide and rolling, wind at force 6, right up the chuff. The big stripey roller genoa, poled out to starboard, the mizzen staysail hung upside down on the inner forestay, stabilised and tamed by using the main boom end (otherwise unemployed) as a sheet lead.

Stuck to the helm, feeling, reading, living with the ship, anticipating the variation in rudder required to keep her steady, steady as she goes. A trance like state peppered by discipline, every five minutes to scan the horizon. Ships show up sudden, ahead and behind, an ever present potential danger. And always watching the water ahead for floats that are clues to nets spread under the waves, ready to ensnare the unwary, in this fish scoured water.

A swooping, hypnotic motion in the silken sea, warmed through and through by the Spanish summer's August heat. A tweak on a line here, a checking of the horizon there. No ships to be seen, just the icing of snow still extant on the mountain tops, now brilliantly lit by the quickly setting sun. Look all round, a hand (or a foot) on the wheel.

And dark. Sudden as it can only be in lower latitudes. The western sky dims, the eastern horizon grows velvet black, the lights on the little ship glim and shine in the water, reflections joining the phosphorescence, the sea echoing the jeweled sky, stars like diamonds studding the firmament with our tricolour on top of the mast the brightest star of all, inscribing arcs against Altair above.

A blow, a watery breath announces company. A pilot whale, not 20' long, smaller than us, a youngster. Swimming along, maybe thinking we are his mom. Mum. No. We are wooden, not flesh, though the ship has soul, and all sailors know that love that ties them to the ship and the sea.

"Cup of tea" says the off watch crew. coming up to take over
"I'll have a beer, helps get me to sleep"
"What's happening?" as he blows on his tea, rubbing sleep from his eyes, and scanning the scene
"You missed the whale. Its a beautiful night. Nothing in site, log's up to date. Might sail better if we set the inner staysail sheeted hard amidships"
"Mmm. I'll think about it"
"If you want it done, let's do it now" And we did, easier with two, and the helm to mind.
The last task before rolling into my grateful bunk, to sip a stubbie and sleep till midnight. Then I'll have the world and the ship all to myself again.

Comments

Thumbs up! Great writing. Sounds beautiful and like something you can only do while well. The idea of being on a ship makes me feel cold. Dampness coming over me. Anyway, thank you for this writing. I covet the idea.
 
Wonderful, wonderful writing, Jace.

I can almost feel the spray on my face & the wind in my hair.

I DO wish more members would write off-topic like this. I'm an adventurer at heart, & when someone writes as well as you do, it sends me travelling in my imagination.

Without my imagination, life seems a little quiet at times.

Please write again (when you feel up to it). I'm stumped at the moment - cut my finger rather deeply when out pruning the dead blooms off my oregano.

A bound finger makes typing difficult.
 
Thank you people, you are kind to a novice. It means a lot for a nascent writer to get such positive feedback. I would have edited, thinking you could, but it seems once posted a blog is intractable.

The mizzen staysail was tacked down to the stem, and flown on the spinnaker halyard.

The bit with the pilot whale was stolen from Biscay. There are many dolphins and turtles and the odd shark in that bit of the Med. If that youngster was there, he would have been really lost!

I've got a feeling this journey will extend, both forward and back in time, as time and ME allows.
 
Jace, Wonderful...just simply wonderful!

My Dad lived most of his life as a sailor (a Merchant Marine, to be exact). My earliest memories are of being carried part way up the Gang plank to see him off! My eyes filled with tears - my tiny fists shaking in rage as he left me behind...and a beautific (almost Angelic!) look of rapture on his face as he turned away from the Land...and faced the Sea! For months on end (the good portion of each year, as the lines he shipped out on sailed FAR!) we made contact through letters...and I learned to read and write at a very early age to accomplish this.

I was a young adult before he started telling me his "Sea Stories"...I learned (albeit, second-hand) to love the Sea....and I finally came to understand that rapturous look on his face - that I saw each time he started a Voyage. Your story takes me back to HIS stories! I'll listen to yours as often as you feel like telling them!

Thanks.....jackie

BTW...when my Father was dying of Alzheimers I brought him to live with me...our House is on a hill facing Catalina Island - with a deck looking right out to Sea...and he thought he was back on his Ship - up until the end!
 
This made me sad and happy, reminding me of my Dad too. He was always so busy but there was always time to go sailing, so many memories. Thank you.
 
Hey Jackie, thank you for taking the time to tell me of your dad. What a precious gift you gave him in the last years of his life, so he was able to have that feeling of being where he most loved to be, in this life.

I live now in a small flat, but my kitchen table is by a big window that gives me a view of the sea. Needless to say there are a pair of binoculars on that table, and no, they are not to spy on the neighbors :) but to check out who's out on the water today.
 
Thank you...for writing this story (and many more, I hope!)...as I got to re-live some times with my Dad!
Also...when he died, we took a boat out - directly off my coastline - and scattered his ashes.
In fact...my "Profile pic" is the view from my bedroom (complete with my two Pomeranians!) and it's facing the same spot on the ocean!
Most of my days are now spent staring out to sea...and I'm fortunate that I can do that from my bed!
More stories! jackie
 
Its nice to have an off-topic post. A nice break! Thanks! Maybe we should have a literary club or something. I liked it.
 
I agree! I love hearing about all the things people have done that made them feel most alive.
 

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