Marshall and I went sailing this past weekend. It’s a recently new experience for me. Even though the wind was in our face, we managed to make it out of the little cove where we launched without too much trouble. Marshall’s skill at tacking and adjusting the sail got us out on wind power alone. Once in the main body of the lake, we were at times moving so fast we were making a wake in the water. I was amazed how fast we could go, even when keeping the bow of the boat pointed just a few degrees off from straight into the wind.
We sailed in the lake for hours, despite the big waves and gusty wind, always keeping the sail pointed into the wind. What nearly got us was coming back into the cove at the end of the day when the wind was at our backs. I thought “This will be easy compared to getting out of the cove.” I was wrong. With the wind at our back, one slight turn in the wrong direction could send the boom flying around with amazing force, suddenly pushing the boat in the opposite direction. It happened to us, and we nearly capsized. I had to lean way out on the other side of the boat to keep us from going over. At one point I could see the keel rising toward the surface. I leaned farther out, Marshall quickly adjusted the rudder, and the boat settled back down in the water as it should. It was exhilarating to say the least.
Now that it’s over, I realize there are really two lessons I learned from the experience.
1 ) Having an “almost” catastrophe can be very exciting and can be a teaching moment. I’m glad we had an “almost catastrophe.” I would NOT be glad if we had an actual catastrophe. I might still learn a lesson, but I would also be very cold and wet.
2) In life as well as sailing, having the wind at your back is not always a good thing. You can quickly become complacent. Then when you are not paying attention, something catastrophic can happen. Life, like sailing, is probably much more interesting, fruitful, and enjoyable when you have to show a little skill and finesse by dealing with headwinds now and then.
Just keep sailing, and be ready to quickly grab the tiller, turn the rudder, and lean the other way should you take a wrong turn.
JMS and JMS