Quote of the Month

"Not all those who wander are lost." J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, 1954.

“We must change our attitudes toward the ocean. We must regard it as no longer a mystery, a menace, something so vast and invulnerable that we need not concern ourselves with it … Instead we want to explore the themes of the ocean’s existence—how it moves and breathes, how it experiences dramas and seasons, how it nourishes its hosts of living things, how it harmonizes the physical and biological rhythms of the whole earth, what hurts it and what feeds it—not least of all, what are its stories.” Jacques Yves Cousteau, 1910-1997.

"It's the glory of the sea that has turned my head." Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island, 1894.

"It is with you as with the sea: the most varied names are given to what is in the end only salt water." Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Maxims and Reflections, 1833.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Once Upon a Blue Moon, on a Winter Solstice Eve


Once in a blue moon, there comes a day when you may have the clearest skies, in-the-groove sails, perfect tide, proper wind, following seas, and you feel a part of the best sailing team ever. Yesterday was such a day.

I woke up at 5:00 a.m., and as I readied for yet another Sunday sail, I checked the marine weather on my iPhone. There was a small craft advisory in effect until 6:00 a.m. I wondered what the implications would be for the day. What is it like immediately after the advisory ends?

The wind was S-SE, as opposed to our faithful easterly Trades. The sky was clearer than ever. I mimicked Barbara Streisand, humming the song, “On a clear day, rise and look around you, and you’ll know who you are …”

Bob, Silvia, Marisol and I sailed Bebe II (32’ Beneteau) to Icacos Island from Sunbay Marina in Fajardo, departing at 11:00 a.m., and returning at about 6:00 p.m. There were scattered clouds, dwindling white caps and big breakers on the distant northeast corridor turn by Las Cucarachas. Subsiding waves and wind, the sailboat shimmered across a high-tide peaked current. Mainsail raised and jib unfurled, we couldn’t stop repeating, “What a great day for a sail!” A present to one another—a Christmas sail to remember.

We wandered to Palomino Island, played tag with Glory Days, and at about 1:30 p.m. anchored behind her in Icacos. We were boarded by Carlos, Glory Days’ captain. The boat talk was intertwined by comments on this sailing day perfection. A day so clear, we could see St. Thomas, a good 23 miles visibility, a first time for us, so close to Fajardo. They were all present: Vieques, Culebra, St. Thomas, and the myriad islands and cays in between. The lighthouses in Fajardo and Las Cucarachas shone under the sun.

After anchoring, we plunged into the water, some in some out, pensive, smiling, cleansing body and spirit with sea salted waters. As I floated, holding on to the sailboat by a length of rope on a floating fender, I closed my eyes. I heard the Caribbean Sea singing to me through John Denver’s song, Tradewinds: “I can make you happy! / If I can, I take you away on a wave in my arms / never leave you on the edge all alone. / If you feel like dancing, / rolling like the water across my sleepless night / making me a peaceful place. / All my life to be with you / all I ever want to do / knowing you are feeling that way too / …” Oh, I feel that way too; at one with the sea, sun, sky, sailboat, sailing friends, islands, cays, and my thoughts like shimmering clouds.

A blue moon happens when there are two full moons in the same month. It doesn’t occur often. This month, December 2009, there was a full moon on December 2nd and the next blue moon will be on December 31st. We will now have to wait three more years for the next blue moon, on August 2012 (August 2nd and August 31st). Anyone for a Caribbean blue moon sail?

A day imbued with magic—a Christmas sail—we said our farewells. All heading home for Christmas, to Houston, Trujillo Alto, San Juan—filled with best wishes and memories of that island Christmas sail. And as I drove back home that night, there was a waxing crescent moon smiling at me, midst two December moons, once upon a blue moon, on a winter solstice eve.