30 Mar Catching the Rhythm
One of the things I love about living on a sailboat is the chance to be closer to the rhythm of the earth and sea. A while back, I stumbled across a site that’s a mesmerizing show of the world’s wind and weather patterns, something every serious sailor is addicted to. Whether it’s watching for the right weather window for our next passage or reading the surf to launch our dinghy from shore, sailing has taught me a new awareness that living on land never has. As I write this blog, I’m lightly rocking back and forth to stay level as the swells in the anchorage move under our boat. It’s a bit like working in a hammock. Lying in bed at night can be disconcerting in a rolly anchorage—will this be the night I actually fall out of our berth? Most nights, though, the swells are gentler, and it can be subliminally comforting. I’m in the womb. Sailing is a sensory experience. We feel, smell, and taste the sea in the air. The ocean is never flat. It undulates and lifts us on its swells and rolls us into its valleys. The water swooshes past the boat, as though we’re in a rushing stream, which we in fact are. The boat itself creaks as we crank in the sails. Nighttime is the best. Some waters are rich in bioluminescence, the chemical reaction that occurs in organisms and causes them to glow when disturbed. We’ve been lucky enough to have a couple of dolphins playing along side us in those conditions. It’s a spectacular show that looks like Disney animated it. On the very rarest nights, we hear whales singing to each other. It’s mystical.
We’ve been at anchor going on three months now, which fine tunes our sense of winds and tides, sea life and currents. We need to head north again since our season here is near the end. Unlike a driving trip where we’re only watching for storms and holiday traffic, sailing requires a bigger time cushion to allow for the right weather opening to make this particular twenty-four-hour passage. Fifteen to eighteen hours from here, there’s a particularly nasty rocky point that can create miserable seas. So we wait and watch. What’s the wind doing? How high are the swells and how far apart are they? We’ve gone through this stretch when it’s a lake—sailor talk for the most comfortable a sea can be. We’ve also spent hours bucking over high swells that are too close together. We’re banking on a relatively easy trip this year, something closer to the lake end of the continuum. A few weeks from now, we’ll make the three-day drive home to Colorado, paying more attention to daylight hours and watching for the all-too-possible cows on the road. By then, I’ll already have made the transition to my time on land where I only notice the wind if it blows the trees along the road. ~Janelle