Sailing Ahead, Wherever That May Be

The only time I’ve ever been on a sailboat was to sleep. There’s a great Tall Ship converted into a youth hostel in Stockholm where my sister and I bunked for a couple of nights on our college gallivant across western Europe. [Which hostel appears to have been recently renovated, and very nicely, if any of you should be interested.] While there may have been the faintest of motion rocking us to sleep in our on-board berths, I doubt it replicated very accurately the sensation of actual sailing. My next opportunity was during graduate school when I got a fan letter (one of the very few in my life, as you can imagine!) from a stranger who’d liked a gallery art installation I made so much that he offered to take me out sailing to the nearby islands. I don’t think there was anything predatory about him, but besides my still having a grandiose case of social anxiety in those days, there is the fact that the art show in question was entirely a walk-through, life-sized illustration of an espionage thriller; while I am doubtful that was his inspiration, I didn’t take him up on the offer.
Photo: Adrift on the High Seas

But whenever I see a sailboat, I do think it’s a beautiful representation of a genteel form of freedom that captivates my imagination all the same. Yes, I know plenty of tales of grueling trials on the high seas, no matter the size of the craft; even some of my close friends and relatives have such stories to tell, thankfully, having survived them. And I know, too, the old joke about testing one’s real interest in boat ownership by dressing up in a rain slicker and standing under an ice-cold shower for a couple of hours while flushing hundred-dollar bills down the toilet. But I also know that a vast number of people who could jolly well choose to spend their money and time on less demanding, safer, and far less expensive pastimes still choose boating. There’s clearly a strong pull to counterbalance any such negatives.

I, too, have spent some happy times on boats, just not sailboats. As a coastal kid, after all, I grew up thinking time spent on the ferries was as much pleasure and sightseeing as it was commuting or transport. I have been fairly miserable on a North Sea ferry in stormy seas while I was recovering from the stomach flu, but it did not so permanently scar either my psyche or my stomach lining that I didn’t look forward to the next time I got to be on a slow boat cruising along the shore, or perhaps best of all, in a rowboat or canoe, dipping the oars or paddle in with the rhythmic soft splashing that accompanies my reveries.
Photo: All Ashore

Living far from any natural body of water as I do these days, I am beached like an old craft whose hull is no longer seaworthy. But like those old boats I see, dry-docked on the beach or alongside the tumbledown barn or in a weedy field, I keep in my soul a firm and loving memory of every good time spent with the waves rocking me softly from below, telling me stories of their own and inviting me forward, ever forward, wherever that might take me.

10 thoughts on “Sailing Ahead, Wherever That May Be

  1. Hi Kathryn. I surely enjoyed reading your sailboat adventures. I love to travel in a ferry and the duration must be reasonable. The feeling of adventure and the beautiful scenery all along the coastline of British Columbia is awesome. Take care and God bless my friend.

    • Yes, all that I’ve seen of BC and its coast is truly beautiful! Richard has seen more of the Sunshine Coast than I, as he toured it when conducting the Canadian National Youth Choir 8 years ago. I was still teaching at uni then, so had to wait and meet them when they got to Victoria. πŸ™‚ But we’ve spent much happy time in Vic and Vancouver and will happily go back anywhere up that way whenever we get chances!!
      Love and blessings to you, my sweet!

  2. I think it’s difficult for those of us who have lived by the sea to be far from it for long periods of time. I miss it when I am away. When you have been in Washington, have you gone to Aberdeen and sailed on the Lady Washington? I think that would be great fun for you. She’s a beauty!

  3. I love the idea of sailing, but sadly am usually a passenger sitting on deck with a gin and tonic!:) However, I do love sleeping on a sail boat and listening to the water lapping and all the other beautiful sounds associated with boating:)
    Have a wonderful weekend. Janet. xxxx

    • I can’t think of anything wrong with sitting on the deck sipping a good drink!!

      I do find the sound of the water at least as soothing and heartwarming as the sight of it, too. Even rain, if it’s not interrupting something crucial. We’re in Washington at the moment and it’s been quite stormy, taking out massive evergreens and plenty of roofs and roads and bridges in its path in the last few days, but we’ve remained safe from everything except for power outages and murky driving, so I still find the patter/pelting somewhat cozy. Familiar!!

      xoxo, and many wishes for a beautiful weekend ahead of you!

  4. So enjoyed the writing, K: “I do think it’s a beautiful representation of a genteel form of freedom that captivates my imagination all the same.” And the ending (which tells of beginnings). The fan letter/offer’s so cool!! The graphics are



    • Funny you should put it that way, as one of the things I remember from that guy’s letter was that he particularly liked the fact that the only jot of color in the entire black-and-white exhibition was on the artist-statement at the entrance, where I’d underlined the text with a bold brushstroke of scarlet to make it highly visible.

      Glad you enjoyed it, my sweet!

  5. I live too far from the sea, but every time I get out on the water…. Well, it’s such a gift. Cheers to more sailing days ahead, Kathryn!

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