When Sailing Sandy

sandy boat

It was time; a summer day on Priest Lake
 The wind was blowing strong from the south
 Sandy looked lonely in the shed, so I had rigged her the week before
 There was no wind then, she had to wait her turn
 Sailors must be patient, and pick their moments

 Today I raise her sail, fluttering in the breeze
 Slip on a life-vest, swimsuit and sun screen
 On a thirteen foot boat you will get wet
  She is light on her feet, weighing one-hundred-twenty pounds
 A planing hull designed for speed, the speed of the wind
 A delicate lady, holding twice her weight in human ballast
 I’ve sailed larger, slower boats for many years
 Some days you need to go fast; push yourself to the edge and beyond
 Be a kid once more
 The splashing, the noise, the heeling, the rush, the dumping
 I know what is in store for me and cannot wait
As I push off the dock the wind fills her sail
 She feels alive again on the open water, free from the shed
 We run hard upwind, heeled at forty degrees
 Tacking alternating courses as we make our way south to Coolin
 It is hard work, but she points well
 Making Coolin, we come about and run with the wind to the north
 Her planing hull rises from the water; we are screaming downwind
 As we race past our mooring, I see people on docks and the beach
 Feeling cocky, I turn back into the wind
 Plotting a course toward the shore
 We are heeled over, fifty degrees
 Water rushes over the leeward gunwale onto my feet
 Feet secured by the hiking strap
 Two-hundred-forty pounds hanging over the side, keeping her upright
 We sail in an unstable balance between control and insanity
 No, we have crossed the line to insanity
 A gust or a lull, and I will be in the water
 I see our neighbor, the Professor
 He has placed his book on the dock and is observing us closely
 I plot my course directly to him, three hundred yards out
 As distance erases, a group of people gather on a nearby dock taking in my show
 I relax the tiller, falling off a few degrees, heading directly toward them
 We pass the blue-green line marking the shallow water
 Heeled as she is, we only draft a foot
 We are now only one-hundred feet from the spectators
 They are watching and wondering
 Will he turn soon?
 I must get closer, close enough that they see my age
 A guy near retirement, an exhibitionist
 A young old-man
 I need to recognize their faces and they mine
 Heart pounding, distance closing
 Instinctively, I release the sheet turning hard into the wind
 I duck as the boom swings by
 She comes to a complete stop, sail flapping wildly thirty feet from my spectators
 In an instant her sail fills, we heel over and are under way once more
 When performed well the maneuver resembles a choreographed ballet on water
 If done poorly, the sailor is a spectacle in the water
 This day it goes well
 As I glance over her stern, the gallery applauds
 The professor picks up his book
 I seek the next thrill.
 That’s the way it is, when sailing Sandy

2 thoughts on “When Sailing Sandy

  1. shoreacres

    This isn’t my kind of sailing, but I do enjoy the Wednesday night races here, when the J-22s do their thing. And it’s fun to watch the kids in sailling camp learn how to do what you did — beautifully, I might add.


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