The sky is dreary and the temperature is crisp. It is a combination that threatens to rain. Finally I have some weather that inspires writing. It is quite the opposite of the sunny energetic days that I have been enjoying. Not so long ago I could feel the sun warm my back, and a slight breeze pass through my hair. It was an invitation for sailing that was difficult to refuse.
My favorite moment during the past sunny days is when I was readying Talon for a sail. Just Talon and I having our own moment. The late afternoon sun harshly reflected off of the boat deck and its warmth radiated. Swallows playfully darted around and the geese lazily swam about.
As I grabbed each line running them port and starboard, I could feel my independence grow. My heart pumped self confidence through my bloodstreams. Next I grabbed the head sail halyard to hook up. I watched it swing observing its path. Committing to memory the way it traveled up the mast, strung through the pulley atop and made its way back down to my hand.
I continued with each step of set up purposeful and thoughtful. It was a beautiful process. There is something that bonds you to a boat when you know the path of each line and halyard.
The unavailing of the mainsail is the best part. It is the moment you give your boat permission to set off and fly.
My second favorite moment was when we took Talon out and the wind was full of gust. The funny thing is Sean and I went out with a lazy sail in mind. Mother nature had other plans.
It was a bit painstaking to even get little ol’ Talon out of the slip. A strong east wind funneled in the harbor and just wanted to hold us in our slip. I watched boats on the river leaning hard as they played with the wind while Sean revved our champ of a motor.
He was able to pierce through the funneled wind strait backward, placing us in the slip across. Between the current below and the rushing wind it would have been a lost fight to turn. Sean gave the command as acting captain for me to hop off and catch the boat. I held the boat firmly as the wind traveled through me. Sean also hopped off holding one of the mooring lines. My stomach was dancing with butterflies and Sean could see my skeptic expression. He chuckled with a shrug and said, “I’m figuring this out as I go,” and of course he did. Using the mooring lines we guided the boat out of the slip bow pointed towards the exit.
Once we were out of the harbor and entered the Columbia the wind had more space to travel and was less forceful as a result. With that being said it still had something to say and was not to be ignored. The wind was strong and playful, and many sailors were out to enjoy its delight.
Sean aimed us into the wind and I held the main halyard ready to hoist the sail. The east wind beat the sail as I pulled on the halyard. The whipping sound of the sail was furious, then in an instant was silent and calm. Sean had steered us slightly off the wind and our sails were curved like a wings.
Just when all was set we were in a position to tack, it was our responsibility to avoid another boat. Sean announced the command of “Ready About” Quickly and decisively we each did our part. Changing direction and trimming the sails. It was perfection.
Yet again another tack was needed just prior to being able to settle. This time “Ready About” was announced mid turn. Even quicker and more decisive I had to let out the port sheet, reel in the Starboard sheet, and trim the sail to a winged shape. This time we have a tack tight to the wind, a solid trajectory. Talon begins to find his balance. Sean held the tiller like a ballet balance bar. I can feel Sean’s uncertainty as he fought with the weathering of the boat. Our balance starts moving from a cautious 15 degrees to 20, 25, 30, then 40 degrees. Sean was dipping his dance partner, and in danger of dropping her.
“Let is out!” It was a commanding voice. Instinctively I grabbed the main sheet and yanked it loose. The reckless yet comforting sound of the boom swinging out dominated all other sounds. Our lean flattened and provided us the time to re-trim and set ourselves.
This go around Sean lets Talon weather a bit and come back around to a beautiful 20 degrees. It was this subtle and gentle dance.
I started the launch racked with nerves, and by this point instant decisions and reactions had purged all the butterflies that flew about in my stomach. I felt incredibly satisfied. It may be a very small step towards being able to solo sail, but knowing I am capable to react quickly, and being comfortable in a solid balance of 20 degrees was much needed.
We spent many hours beating upwind and loving every minute. At the end we were exhausted.
During these sunny days I also had a least favorite moment, which will have to wait to be told next time.