Thursday, April 13, 2006

Under a Sheltering Sky

Down in the dank pit of fever despair I dreamed of sailing and when I did, it was of sailing in its most perfect form. A late summer run down Eggemoggin reach, making way through deep blue water under a sharp breeze redolent of pines, salt air, sun screen. A downwind push for the line and I was on the port drum, my world the trim call “ease” or “trim on” - riding a maxi boat with twenty some crew responding to each puff in harmony. And I would come back to my hot tent and my sweat drenched sleeping bag and the eyes that hurt to move and slip back into my fever dreams with gratitude. Offshore on the dawn watch. The night before had been bumpy and we’d moved through a cold front, the wind shifting and building and an all hands on deck call for a sail change. It was off our port quarter now near 20 knots and the steering was tricky in the dark, swells tugging the stern. I was at the helm almost an hour with my watch partner sleeping on the bench in the cockpit when the light began to break over the vast stretch of black ocean. As the rising sun spread fire to the water and the sky began to glow with deep streaks of purple and red I was able to see enough to adjust the helm in response to the swells. The uncertainly of night slipped away in the face of a new day. As my crewmates slept I steered the course and watched the sun climb in the sky, alone for a moment on the ocean under a sheltering sky.


Celia said...
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