The column was published more than five years ago, but I still get reader comments about the Full and By piece I wrote about the ghost fleet. The column is sort of a ghost itself, living forever on the Internet.
Readers, I’m going to introduce you to one of your mates, a fellow sailor whose story comes with a touch of serendipity while telling us something about the diversity of the sailing clan and the esteem that is held for sailing as a pursuit that offers character-building challenges. I think you’ll be glad he’s one of us.
Guys tell me they wish they had never sold their most-loved automobile, maybe a first-generation Pontiac GTO or a Mustang like Steve McQueen drove in the movie “Bullitt,” but instead stored it and pampered it so that today they would be able to show off a valuable classic.
A mental disease called prairie madness afflicted settlers living on the American Great Plains. It was caused by the wind. The incessant wind blowing over the endless expanse of flat land literally drove people nuts.I believe I was once on the brink of going crazy because of the wind. That was during the worst sailboat race I ever experienced. Unlike prairie madness, my nascent mental disorder was caused by wind that never blew.
Don’t ask how many sailboat shows I’ve been to. I couldn’t tell you. There are so many of these rituals that command the attendance of people engaged in the business of sailing embedded in my memory that they’ve blurred into an uncountable mass.
One day when my mind was obviously a black hole utterly devoid of anything stimulating to think about, I wondered why so few presidents of the United States and aspirants for that office were sailboat owners.I think I found a partial answer when I came across an article in an online archive with a headline that read, “Boxer calls out Fiorina as a multiple yacht owner.”
In 1995, in the quaint era when logo T-shirts (non-technical 100% cotton) were considered as important to business promotion as a Facebook page is today, SAILING created one that featured a portrait of Joshua Slocum and a drawing of his yawl Spray. It’s a classic. If you’re lucky enough to possess one, it might fetch a tidy sum on eBay, but better to preserve it as a tribute to a great sailing trendsetter.
The shapes arrayed on the windward rail are rounded mounds. In the dark they look a bit like a row of igloos.The simile is apt. It’s a cold night. The 15-knot northeasterly wind is heavy with vapors rising from 48-degree water. The sailors are padded in layers of fleece or down under foul-weather suits and inflatable life vests, with boots on their feet, wool caps on their heads. Shoulder to shoulder, hip to hip, they ride high above the choppy water as the heeling boat close-reaches toward a distant waypoint.
Long live the America's Cup! Yes, I know, some of us have been disappointed by the morphing of this historic yachting institution from a respected international competition among sailors representing yacht clubs and their countries into a spectacle that features participants in helmets and body armor and is fueled by the inflated wallets and egos of billionaires and marked by shameless rule-rigging, but now we can again proudly embrace this once beloved sailing icon, for the America’s Cup has finally delivered on its promise to sailors.
I’m pretty sure I sailed before I walked. I know I sailed before I talked. I don’t remember it, but it’s family lore. My parents’ idea of a nice family outing was to put their first-born, while still in the babe-in-arms stage, aboard their 18-foot Seagull sloop and go sailing on Lake Michigan. There is no record of whether I wore a life preserver. I’m guessing I didn’t. The kapok models in vogue at the time would have outweighed the child.
The politics of international amateur athletic competition are so inscrutable and Byzantine they make professional sports look wholesome in comparison. Professional sports are driven by the simple and pure imperative of an entertainment business–to make money. International amateur sports are driven by a mysterious something else. Whatever it is, it's not pure or simple, judging from the bizarre decisions issued by the ruling authorities.
Three stout but dignified denizens of Navigator Heaven were gathered at a local pub for their afternoon pint. “What do you make of that sailing vessel fetching up on Cargados Carajos Shoals near Mauritius?” Captain James Cook, the legendary 18th-century explorer and cartographer, asked his mates.
I’m writing this on the “today” mentioned in the above excerpt from the NOAA marine forecast, which is October 31, 2014. That is the deadline for this column, and I had better get going, but I am being distracted by the view through my office window, a scene rendered in pewter of a street shrouded in metallic gray with a sturdy maple tree bending in the burgeoning gale as its last few leaves become unmoored to join the horizontal flight of passing snowflakes.