Saturday, August 27, 2011

Sailing, Sailing

I absolutely love the water. Especially the ocean. I enjoy boating of any kind, buy my absolute favorite is sailing.

I was fortunate enough to spend two weeks one year and four weeks another sailing all around the Bahama Islands on a 37 foot catamaran. After outfitting and stocking our boat, we would set off from Titusville, Florida and sail down the intracostal waterway to Ft. Lauderdale. We would always spend the night in South Florida to check weather conditions and re-stock anything we might have forgotten, before heading for West End, Grand Bahama.

Watching all this hurricane stuff made me remember how quickly the temperament of the ocean can change. It can in a matter of minutes go from glassy smooth ripples, to raging 7 and 8 foot waves or more. It is always mysterious, always surprising and thrilling and at times frightening.

I remember on summer in particular. I kept a journal that year and called it "The Year of the Squall." That was because every day was an adventure of waiting for what the severity of weather would be that evening. The mornings were always calm and beautiful and we would awake to incredible sunrises. But, by late afternoon every day, and I do mean every day, we would get storms.

One particularly peaceful afternoon as we were sailing along from Fox Town to Marsh Harbor, I was leaned back against the cabin reading a book. My companion was at the tiller steering our course. When I looked up from my book, I was suddenly speechless! There was a positively HUGE waterspout heading right for us! I squealed and pointed as my friend looked to see what I was so excited about. We had to decide rather quickly the course of action we would take.

Running it over together we both remembered having been told to move at a right angle to the direction of the spout. We made a quick course adjustment, and watched in disbelief as the waterspout passed right between us and another sailor about 200 yards behind us!

After our relief at having escaped the spout, we found ourselves in another dilemma. The area in which we had turned was known as Crishes Swash. I have no idea what that means, but it was shallows! Really shallow shallows. I took my position on the front of the boat, to point the way toward the deeper parts of the water as we began to pick our way back to our planned course.

As we inched our way along between outcroppings of coral and sand bars, we saw some of the most beautiful fish and wildlife I have ever seen. It was beautiful and pristine there. If it had not been for the water spout we would never have known about or seen this beautiful place. Eventually we were able to find our way back out to deeper water and proceed to our next mooring.

Sailing is a beautiful, adventurous, exhilarating if somewhat dangerous sport.
Like any other sport, you need to study before you attempt it. Charts, weather, radios, depth finders can all help. But your absolute best friend is your own common sense. Use your head, plan ahead, and have fun. Believe me, the adventures my companion and I shared while sailing will stay with me for the rest of my life.

I will share more about them in a later blog. Have a Blessed Day!

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