It was cold and windy enough on Saturday that we waited until afternoon to get out on the boat. The sky was dotted with clouds, but enough blue showed through to be called mostly sunny. It was only about fifty-five degrees and the wind was steady at ten knots with gusts to fifteen, right on the edge of where we feel comfortable sailing Willadine.
We bundled up in long johns, hats and windbreakers and made a brilliant getaway from the dock with the newly serviced motor running like a champ. Hooray for Fred! The lake was reflecting the sky and ringed with trees in various colors, like autumn confetti. We certainly felt like celebrating.
Whenever possible we like to sail upwind to start and then have a leisurely sail downwind back, so we headed east toward the dam in the northeasterly wind. We had reefed the main (reduced the sail area) but we noticed the boat had a significant amount of lee helm. (For you landlubbers, this means that the wind was pushing the mainsail downwind, causing the helmsman to have to steer hard upwind to compensate.)
Eric had the brilliant idea to let out some jib, and with just a handkerchief of jib, the lee helm disappeared. We surmised that the jib was improving the performance of the main by directing some of the wind over the lee side of it and also that somehow the jib “balances” the boat and makes her sail more properly. We were extremely pleased with ourselves.
We neared the dam as the sun was getting low and I noticed the golden light of dusk hitting some red clay on the shore ahead lighting it up against the dark clouds behind. Looking the other way, that sun came through the trees and they lit up chartreuse and orange, with tinges of scarlet and green against the sparkling water and darkening sky and the moon rising like a fat “D” above it all.
With the sails up, cruising along, it’s very quiet. You can hear the water lapping on the hull and the occasional tap of a line on the mast. When a gust of wind comes, it sometimes makes the rigging hum in a pleasured sort of way. Above the sail, I noticed some white spots wheeling around in a group. Seagulls. They soared and dove above us and moved down along the lake and disappeared. I longed to hear their sound, but they were silent. Maybe seagulls only cry at sea. I wonder why they came to the lake. Do they go inland for a vacation, maybe? They certainly looked like they were having a frolic, the way they flew so wildly around each other. I could almost smell the sea.
Whenever a gust would come up, Willadine would catch it and take off. If I got distracted with the trees or the wildlife and headed up to close to the wind, the jib would luff (flap) and warn me to steer off. We felt the motion of the water moving the boat and the wind on our cheeks. The very air all around us would take us where we wanted to go, with little effort on our parts, like magic.
This is the magic of sailing. It satisfies so many of my longings all at once. It satisfies my need for water, which I’ve had all my life, and my need for adventure, another lifelong desire, as well as my need for love and intimacy, since Eric is there to share it with me. I feel very content on the boat, to ride the water and the wind and let it take me both out of and into life itself.