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Sailing On

By Capt. Douglas Malat

A stiffer breeze came up, and a push of water moved aside as we heeled deeper to port. The autopilot adjusted slightly as our speed increased from this fresh new breeze. The foam from our movement forward was really passing the porthole now....You could feel the speed under your feet as you stood in the Salon. We had to Motorsail the day before as the remnants of a storm system moved to the NorthEast. We had been beating (closehauled) into the wind and seas, trying to make our way to the Chesapeake from Block Island, RI. It is normally a 48 to 54 hr trip, but this system hasn't moved off as fast as they predicted. The bow had been plunging into the seas ahead, some washing over the bow and rampaging down the leeward deck. There was no crashing of the hull and water, but a steep onset followed by a reciprocal rise which launches the bow skyward. This is called working to Windward. The amount of work depends on how much Sail you have out. If you are young, you're hanging it all out....and then some."Nothing can stop us" is their motto. Seasoned Sailors reef down (don't put out all sails) for that smooth rhythmic feel and at times clock off more miles. We've been reefed down for a while now, looking for those blue skies to open up, so we can do the same with our sails.

By the next day it was perfect ....12 -15 kts from the West. Sails are out full, pushing our portside lower to the water. Foam keeps pushing off the side and rushes aft, swirling at times before it meets the stern wake. Standing by the sternrail, you feel the breeze against your skin. You feel the push of the breeze, but not the cold or the warmth. It is one of those rare occasions when the ambient temperature matches yours. You just feel the pressure of the breeze.....If you have not felt this sensation yet, you're in for a very special moment. At first you think something is wrong.....a breeze usually makes you feel cool or even cold...if it is a warm breeze, you might sweat. So when no sensation is felt, but the pressure of the breeze....Well, all I can say is that I hope you catch that moment. We enjoyed the moment looking at the vastness of the gentle sea, as we swooned towards our destination. We felt as if we were upon a bed of softly we moved ahead....parting the seas ahead...closing them behind....leaving it as it was. That's one thing on this Earth that is so hard to do.

The sunset envelopes the skyline...."Should I blink?" Brad, a regular crew member says.."I don't want to miss anything!" The prior storm system left clear skies allowing the colors to burst onto any atmospheric anomaly. Spreading itself wide along the horizon, way off to the sides and overhead giving a feeling of being surrounded within...The sunset seemed to last past its' time.

The next morning we see a turtle sunbathing in the clear blue sea. His head motions to our passing as if to recognize our existence....another strange feeling...He has the wonders of the sea beneath, yet focuses upon us in our passing. As the day moves on, we find ourselves glimpsing at a diminished horizon....our destination is not only showing up on our chartplotter, but there on the horizon. My soul tells me to turn, and Sail on.