The sea is the mother of us all; and, if we attend carefully, it will disclose the most beautiful moments imaginable--the sudden flash of a lighthouse as it searches the darkness, a distant sailboat leaning on the wind, or the gull who sleeps on the waves without fear. We are, each of us, a pilgrim in search of the undisclosed mysteries that lie beyond every horizon. So let us hoist sail and be about the business of finding our way. There is still time to attend to the miracle...
The sea is the mother of us all; and, if we attend carefully, it will disclose the most beautiful moments imaginable--the sudden flash of a lighthouse as it searches the darkness, a distant sailboat leaning on the wind, or the gull who sleeps on the waves without fear.
We are, each of us, a pilgrim in search of the undisclosed mysteries that lie beyond every horizon. So let us hoist sail and be about the business of finding our way. There is still time to attend to the miracle of each day and consider what it can teach us of matters eternal. If we are sufficiently attentive, we may even discover a star of our own making, that we might trust in our primal nature and revel in the curling waves, ourselves barefoot, observant, and wind-burned in the afternoon sun.
Every journey is but a prelude to the next; so come join us all ye dreamers, gypsies, and vagabonds! The lights begin to twinkle from afar, and the evening star shines high to the east.
Give me a spirit that of this life's rough sea
Loves t'have his sail filled with a lusty wind,
Even till his sail-yards tremble, his masts crack,
That she drinks water, and her keel plow air
George Chapman, 1608
Most of the mariners Jeanine and I have met are excellent navigators and fiercely independent. They can tell a tale with the mastery of a seasoned bard; for they have lived well, and they have survived and celebrated life with every fiber of their being. When they hoist sail and head for new horizons, it is with the kind of anticipation that could never possibly wear thin. The sea is their canvas and a talisman to their imaginations, and they are rich beyond measure.
Just about any boat is a miracle of sorts, suspended as it is between the heavens and the sea. In fact, the majority of sailors are not particularly worried about the creatures that inhabit the deeps, nor do they puzzle about the infinite sea or even the stars overhead, for they are the mother of us all.
Jeanine and I know well the transient wonder of sail. We have witnessed the splendor of an azure sunset, the beauty of a glimmering moon at midnight, and the phosphorescent push and tumult of the wind upon the waves. There is magic in every passage. The seabirds and our books are our shipmates. We cloister in a cozy harbor, hoist sail at our choosing, and abandon the tyranny of measured time. To be fair, we have been severely challenged. We have survived fire, breakdown, sickness, and deadlock; but we have yet to be dissuaded, for there is more to be gained than lost.
Those of us who have lived long and well know that old age is always watchful; the longer we embrace life, the less we have to do with death. So let us not look too deeply into the depths eternal; but rather celebrate life and the sacrament of the wind and sea. Every journey is but a prelude to the next, and the distant horizon lies beyond the sunset.
Come join us, then. The lights begin to twinkle from the shore, and the evening star shines high to the west.
md & jd
Lightning, Fire, Deadlock
Familiarity with danger makes a brave man
braver, but less daring
Every sailor understands that risk is a necessary adjunct of self-sufficiency. If we challenge the natural world, it may well take the measure of us, but that is the price of freedom.
Jeanine and I have survived more than our share of close calls; and, while most of our desultory voyages have been relatively care-free, some have challenged our skills and seamanship to the utmost and a rare few tested our nerves with such ferocity that the memories survive intact even to this day.
Three in particular come especially to mind: a lightning storm, a fire, and a deadlock. With each event, our response was probably a long way from perfect, and perhaps a couple of more able shipmates might have reacted differently. However, we proved effective as a team, and we survived.
Lake Powell, Utah, is notorious for lightning. Jeanine and I have heard dozens of scare stories about strikes: houseboats that took a direct hit, killing everyone aboard; campers who survived the night huddled in a public lavatory while their tents and personal goods were fried to a crisp; bass fishermen who claimed it stripped them naked and fried their boat (a fish story?).
Jeanine and I have our stories too! A sailboat with an aluminum mast will attract lightning like termites to an aging dory; and we have hidden beneath cliffs and alcoves while the lightning flashe
If you're one of those who thinks sailing is a rich man's sport, this book will change your mind. Don't let the title fool you. This isn't a religious tome, but a collection of heartfelt accounts by a lifelong sailing couple of adventures on the lakes and coasts of central and western US in a succession of older, small boats. The well-written narratives reflect the authors' magnificent obsession with sail. To paraphrase them: It all lies before you. All you have to do is hoist sail and go.
Matts and Jeanine are lifelong sailors and boating enthusiasts. They have sailed much of the West, including the Pacific Northwest, Canada, central and southern California, Mexico, the Rockies, and the Great Southwest.
Matts has written extensively on sailing and is a freelance writer for 48 NORTH, SAILING, CRUISING WORLD, and SAIL magazines. He is also the author of FIXING POSITIONS (Sheridan House) and SAILING OUR OF RETIREMENT: LIVING THE DREAM.
He is currently working on a semi-biographical novel of the early Sixties. It will be released sometime in late 2014 or early 2015.
Matts is a professor emeritus of English at Colorado Mesa University. He retired in
2007 after forty-five years in public education.
Matts retired from Colorado Mesa Ui