An Unromanticized View of Sailing
Updated: Oct 26, 2021
(THE DAVINCI-CHARLOTTESVILLE) - Sailing is:
Eating peanut butter one sixteenth of a tablespoon at a time to simultaneously ease your stomach and prevent yourself from having something to throw up once you inevitably do.
Clinging to the pretzel bag as a lifeline for the aforementioned reasons
Throwing potato peels over the side and accidentally tossing the bowl with them (to be lost at sea forever)
Your hair is now matted into curls from a combination of salt and grease
No, the crustaceans on the bottom of the boat do not stop clicking.
Staying in the cockpit as far into the night as you can before making the desperate run through the galley and into your bunk before the nausea can catch up to you.
Debating whether using the bathroom is worth the 20-30 pumps it takes to flush the toilet.
Taking a shower after three days of grime makes you feel like a Roman emperor returning from the baths
It’s finally sunny out and you are no longer nauseous. You try to read, only to be blinded by the sun reflecting off the pages. The nausea returns.
The only place healthy food resides is the refrigerator. Unfortunately, to acquire such food from the refrigerator you must crawl down into it vertically, digging through all of the other cold items, reappearing with only a frozen milk jug to show for your efforts.
Showering, when done, usually takes place at night after a long day visiting the islands--with a hose, in the wind, as you huddle naked covered in soap suds.
Sometimes the prettiest shells are already home to hermit crabs and snails; sometimes this is realized too late.
Going snorkeling, though seemingly an inspiring family activity, is quite cold and disappointing. Mangrove fish are grey, turtles swim away, eels are always at the forefront of the swimmer’s mind. The best spots are the reefs, which, unfortunately, are not all that close to shore, and during the winter are dangerous, crashing, windy places to find oneself.
Being an observer of the destruction of wild places in favor of tourism, even though you know that the building of such places helps the local economy and ease poverty.
However, sailing is also:
Finally making it into a marina/ anchorage. Here the waves have calmed, and when dinner begins you can laugh with your family about the names and makes of the boats around you.
Making fun of the top .01% Floridian snobs who motor by on their over large power boats.
Seeing the clearly defined line between the ocean and the teal banks of the Bahamas after two days of misery at sea. You’ve made it across the gulf stream.
Pointing out sea turtles and remarking at turtle grass.
Singing songs into the ocean spray.
Learning constellations from the clear night sky and looking at the moon’s craters with your binoculars.
After checking into the country, being given control of the autopilot and the responsibility of taking the boat to the next island, Manjack Cay. It's nerve-wracking at first, and you constantly dart between checking for boats and triple confirming that the water depth is still deeper than the boat’s keel. But then you’ve found your rhythm and it’s actually quite exhilarating to have that responsibility. Fun, even.
Driving the dinghy to shore, wading in knee deep water and tying it to a palm tree, then stepping out onto the wet and shifting sand for the first time in years.
Finding a trail to an oceanside beach that goes through a tropical forest, and walking it as it gradually grows narrower and the path becomes more limestone than dirt. It opens up into the beach--grand and magnificent and vibrant. Ocean wind blows without relent, kicking up teal waves; sky purple and pink from the sunset; moon luminous between clouds. There’s trash washed up from the hurricanes, but even the crates and old shoes seem to tell a story.
It’s walking back from there as the sky grows darker, wet from swimming, wishing that you could share this feeling (maybe of freedom, maybe of living) with everyone.
Admiring the houses perched above the limestone overhangs.
Talking to the locals when grocery shopping, learning their individual stories.
Riding the dinghy back to the boat at night, air crisp as the sea spray, path illuminated by the dock lights.
Falling asleep to the rhythmic tapping of the halyard against the mast.