I don’t know what to write today, I just got up to trim my nails so I wouldn’t hack up my laptop keys. Ok, now I’m back; much better.
No, I wasn’t responsible. I just couldn’t take the normal path. I had a little 24 foot sailboat, berthed in Sausalito and it was always sitting there, awaiting my arrival, ready to have the sails bent on and dock lines slipped. My mentors, highly prized forgoing the use of engines to undock and dock and I’d taken that lesson to heart. It was flat out cool in so many ways. First there’s a lot less noise, you don’t get your hands greasy or spill any fuel into the water, you don’t have to close the gas vent or flip up the engine to get it out of the water. Without 60 lbs of engine hanging off the transom the boat sits better on it’s lines and is better balanced.
And then there’s dealing with the wind. of course every boat has to deal with wind and current but in the case of a powerboat the wind is almost always something to be fought with, to counter against. Now a sailboat has the same problems but the sailboat, in the right hands, has tools to use the wind to its advantage. All of the different ways in which sailors attempt to explain how it all works is a personal fascination of mine. To some the wind is caught while to others the sails are likened to aircraft wings and neither is truly correct. But if one can capture the concept of how to bend wind and how to bend it to greatest effect, well, there’s the truest explanation. The reality is that in some ways the wind is caught and in other ways there’s a certain amount of flying involved but it takes imagination and creativity to hook it all up. It takes a readjustment of natural phenomenon and a fair amount of observation to make it all work, to sail a boat out into the world and back into its berth. And that’s the simple fun of it. Are there dangers? Sure are! Why, did you know that the most dangerous way to make a living is to be a coastal fisherman? Yes, more dangerous than mining, more dangerous than working in a nuclear power plant, more dangerous than a San Francisco Cop. Not to sure about drug dealers as I doubt there are official government statistics on that line of work but I’ve totally gotten off track…
No, I wasn’t responsible for how I felt. I wasn’t responsible for my inner stress. I wasn’t responsible enough to hold down a job. But I am responsible once out on the water. I know how to get from here to there in almost any condition nature can throw at me, even if that means I wait until the conditions favor the direction I’d like to head. Most importantly I know how to stay level through all sorts of events; good or bad.
Why is it I can’t do that in more normal human situations? Why is it that I don’t get bored with sailing?
I clearly remember the 24 year old guy out sailing on the bay on any given Monday, mid day looking up at the high-rises picturing that somebody was up in one of those windows looking back down at me. I guess there might be a bit of ego that assumes that somebody looked out in envy. I mean, that’s what I assumed because, why not! Maybe though they were up there looking down to the bay thinking about how warm and dry they were and how cold and wet I must be. That’s a totally reasonable turn about of thought.
Back in Sausalito there was an old heroin smuggler who lived on a small sailboat across the fairway from me. Myles would tell stories from time to time about the Middle East, particularly Afghanistan where he’d do business with poppy growers. Myles had long since been retired by the DEA and lived a very simple life by himself on a 30 foot sloop. He didn’t have a lot of money but then again too he didn’t do much in the way of work either.
One Monday morning Myles was relaxing in his cockpit drinking a cup of coffee under a sun awning and hailed across the water towards me as peaked my head out of my companionway hatch. As I looked over Myles said, “It’s Dave’s Day!” He went on further to explain that if I were governor I could proclaim all Mondays as Dave’s Day so that we could all take a moment to commune with nature and go sailing. I loved that man.