Throwback Thurs #TBT 2005 The Sailing Dream is Always the Same

Photo by Al Schreitmueller

For Throwback Thursday #TBT, here's a 2005 article by SpinSheet's founding editor, Dave Gendell:

The sailing dream is always the same…
Catch a glimpse of the quivering treetops through a sealed office window. Point your web browser to a weather site. Slip out of the building a few minutes early. Negotiate the traffic “Don’t these people understand? I’m on a mission here!” Arrive at the parking lot and walk to the boat with an extra spring. Slip the docklines. A simple boat is key. And so are simple needs. Delaying for luxuries such as ice or a change of clothes is not the heart of the matter. Grabbing a halyard and pulling sails skyward is. 

The slap-slap-slap of sails stops quickly as the warm late afternoon wind fills their shape. The engine is put to rest—a welcome void in the air. The boat heels and picks up speed. The wake gurgles its contented chant. You’re not sure if you are sailing to something or away from something. But it doesn’t matter because the water is flat, there’s a nice humid breeze, and the sun is still high in the sky. You greedily suck in the summer air. 

The westerly is hot and smells like the woods. 

The southerly carries a hint of the ocean. 

The gray easterly? The chill northerly? They are strangers now. Seldom felt in this season. 

You might enjoy sailing with a soundtrack (Buffett, Yo Yo Ma, Bob Marley perhaps). Or you might crave silence, pressing the “pause” button on the fast forward rush of the 21st century. 

You might be headed out to race with and against like-minded sailors. From Havre de Grace to Hampton and everywhere in between there are a boatload of competitive venues on the Chesapeake. 

Or you may be headed out for a quick turn on the water before another dash home for dinner. “Sorry I’m a bit late. I just drove by the boat to, uhhh, check on her…”

Either way, at some point you will be tempted to just stay out there. Like the siren songs of Lorelei: there are perceptible tugs from the general direction of 180 on the compass; there are promises in the wind; music in the bow wake; temptation in the sails. You feel a need to keep going. The night is ripe with possibility. These feelings may flutter by as a slight stirring deep inside you or they may be so obvious that your heart breaks a little bit. But the need will be there.  

You stretch and your bloodflow steadies as it slows. You trim the sails, but not too obsessively. The sheet pulls and you feel the warm glow of being in love with something. 

Inevitably, the natural light is slowly pulled over the woody western horizon. Artificial lights begin to pop up along the shoreline. Last weekend’s sunburn is chilled by the breeze. 

You come about and make for the slip, eyes dilated, flush with your sailing high, already anxious for another evening on the water. At the water’s edge, your back to the open spaces of the Bay, you notice that the concrete, asphalt, and gravel have trapped the heat of the day. You smell the trees and the heat. You hear a horn in the near distance. You pause to look back at your boat on the way off the pier. You always pause to look back as you leave her.

See you on the Water,
Dave Gendell