Cruisers Forum
 


Join CruisersForum Today

Reply
 
Thread Tools Rate Thread Display Modes
Old 20-02-2011, 12:20   #76
Registered User

Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Cape Town South Africa
Boat: Ferro Cement Peter Strong 45 foot ketch called Lemara
Posts: 25
Images: 10
Sailing Solo
A short story
by
Andrew Roth



Sailing Solo

December in Cape Town is mid summer. The whales have departed, the water is warm, the winds are wicked.

After another year in the construction wars, my 12th in this army, I am at last, on leave. Bruised and weary, I need to rediscover myself.

The day dawned with clear sky. As is my custom, I rose at 5 am that day, despite the fact that I was on leave. I made coffee for myself and watched the early morning news on TV. I like to ease into the morning that way, even when I’m working. Think about the day, the problems I will face, the solutions I will offer, sipping my coffee.

I had recently bought a large sailing boat, despite knowing almost nothing about sailing. Thinking about the future, I had the notion that, when I’m 55, I would like to retire and sail the world. I was 48, at the time.

A year of so before, I had started to toy with the idea. I realized that, if I want to cruise the world, I would have to first see if I liked the sea. I enrolled and completed a day skippers sailing course and I liked it. I wanted it!

Almost as soon as I could call myself a qualified skipper, providence gave me the opportunity of sailing a large cruising boat in the form of a 45 foot ketch for a sickly old man who could no longer stand behind the wheel, but he enjoyed sailing and wanted to sail as much as possible before going on his final passage in the Great Boat. Malalapipe (The tramp, in Xhosa. More literally: (I or to) Sleep in a Pipe) is a double master weighing in at 14 tonnes, she was a daunting vessel to behold, after the lightweight schooners that I had trained in for my skipper’s license. The owner had her on the market but at half a million rand, she as out of my price range. I sailed her until she was sold, and was sad to say goodbye.

Providence is kind however, and true to the saying “when one door closes, another one opens”, she allowed my path to cross with that of a grand if somewhat neglected old lady of the sea, by way of a ketch, for me.

When I first saw her she was lying in a lonely corner in HoutBay harbor. Her lines were elegant and sweet, her decks a spotty with rust, her interior beautiful and spacious. I fell in love with her as soon as I saw her from ten feet away.

“What’s her name”, I asked of the broker that was showing her. “Lemara”, he replied. “Lemara” I whispered. “Of the Sea. She is for me.” That was October. I made an offer within the hour. Within a day the seller, Andrew Kaymer, accepted my offer and within a month, she was mine.

I visited her every weekend, standing at the helm, peering over the bow, starting the motor and planning her facelift. But with no crew, I didn’t sail her. Just being close to her gave me a sense of peace. She is a heavy girl, at 18 tonnes. Moulded out of concrete around a steel skeleton, she is solid too. Embarking her from the jetty, she remains unmoved. Walking on her deck feels solid underfoot. Her beautifully turned woodwork, spacious layout, ample accommodation, makes me feel like I'm home. The temperature below is always constant, a comfortable 18 degrees. Winter and summer. I feel secure and safe inside and on her. Her designer and builder's spirit still pervades her. In fact, while her name means, "Of The Sea", in Spanish, it is also the first two letters of the names of the builder, his daughter, and his son, I was told by Andrew, the second owner from whom I bought her. Len, Mary, and Raymond.



Monday, the first day of my leave, 5 am. I am thinking about my day. I must go and see my lady of the sea again, I thought. Yes, I will go and talk to her and hear what she has to say. I didn’t visit her over the weekend, and must go today.

I arrived in HoutBay around ten. The sky was blue, a light South Westerly breeze blowing. The water looked inviting and glassy.

I stepped onto the deck and opened the hatches. The musty smell of damp canvass was sweet to my nose. I went below and made coffee on the three plate gas cooker.

Once on deck again, I stood behind the wheel and started the motor, as I had so often before. The motor, like all diesels, baffed, smoked and sputtered before she came to life but after a minute or so, purred quietly, spitting cooling water out of her exhaust with a throaty gush. From deep inside my head though, I heard a different sound. A gentle voice, almost feminine.

“Are we going sailing today?”

I looked around. I was alone.

“Well?” asked the voice.
“I… I have no crew. Andrew always had crew.” I’m talking to a BOAT!
“But you don’t NEED crew to sail me. I'm rigged for solo sailing.” said the gentle voice.
“Can I sail you alone?” I asked out of the corner of my mouth, looking around to see if anyone was looking at me talking to myself.

I am not unaccustomed to talking to things non human, but, for the most part, alive in some way! I’ve had conversations with a dog, a tree, a rock, even the Earth Mother herself. But a boat is made from re-constituted things. This one is made from concrete! All life is, to my mind, essentially ground up, destroyed!

“Why don’t you try” she said. “I haven’t sailed for a long, long time. I really NEED to sail.”
“Well…you’ll have to tell me how" I said, trying to work out how a boat can have a spirit. "You’re a big boat. Beautiful, but BIG. I am but a novice sailor!”
“That all right.” she said. “Just trust me.”
“OK”. I said. “I’m listening”.
“Lay your ropes out on the quayside so that you can catch them with a boat hook when we moor upon our return."
“OK” I said and obeyed.
“Now hoist my sails while we are still moored”.
“OK” I said again, and hoisted the sails. They flapped eagerly in the gentle breeze almost as if awaking from a long sleep, stretching their limbs and ready to work.
“Now slip all but the bow spring off the cleats and reverse the motor gently” said the boat.

I slipped the lines and reversed slowly till the bow spring was taught.

“Move forward again and practice using the boat hook to grab a line” she said.
“Naa…I’ll manage…” I said feeling cavalier. "Let’s go”
“Oooh…I like your STYLE” said the boat.



I slipped the bow spring and reversed the boat out of the mooring, turning to starboard for a few seconds to allow the bow to point down the channel that leads to the harbor exit. As soon as I was perpendicular to the jetty, I applied forward thrust and heard the propeller cavitate in the water for a few seconds while the blades dug for purchase. The reverse motion slowed, then stopped. Gently, she eased forward and gained speed. I swear I could hear her humming softly.

We motored out of the harbor. She moved gently over the swell and responded eagerly to my touch on the wheel. I centered the rudder and walked around the toe rail, hauling the fenders onto the deck.

Just outside the harbor wall, I pointed her bow South East and headed for Kommetjie light house. The 10 knot South Westerly tugged eagerly at the white sails and they billowed taught. I cut the motor. Silently, Lemara and I sailed on the gentle breeze, her bow dipping and rising gently on the swishing swell. She was definitely humming softly to herself, heeling slightly to starboard.

“Having fun?” I asked
“Oh yes” she whispered, interrupting her humming. I smiled. I could sense her smiling too.

We sailed through the heads formed by The Sentinel on the right, and Chapman’s Peak on the left. The dark green sea reminded me of thick glass, with shafts of sunlight piercing endlessly into the depths. I felt peaceful, at one with all. Lemara and I were one. We were at one with the sea. The sea, at one with the world, the world, with the universe.

After an hour or so, I separated myself from the at-one-ment, with difficulty. I asked Lemara if she would mind that we return to port. It will take an hour to get back and then I have to flake and cover the sails and secure the lines. That would take us to three pm. A good time for me to start heading home to miss the afternoon rush.

She agreed but added: “I hope that you will sail me often.”
“I promise” I said, and turned for home.

Just below the radio mast, in the bay, I turned the wheel to port lock and walked to the forward sail, called the jib, across the coach roof. I eased the sails down with the winch handle, folding them roughly and lashing them to the booms. First the jib, then the main. While I was tying up the main, I looked towards the harbor to orientate myself and keep an eye out for fishing boat traffic leaving port for an evening catch. To my amazement, I saw the fluke of a whale close to the harbor wall!

“Mmm”, I thought, "That's unusual! A whale, in HoutBay in December?”

The whales are normally far south in the cold waters of the Antarctic at this time of year.

“Like it?” asked the boat.
“Gets better all the time” I said.
“I’m glad. I’ve arranged a surprise for you” she quipped.
“Oh?”
“Just watch”
“OK. I’m all yours”



I steered for the harbor entrance on a long curve to port side, passing the beach on my starboard side. As I approached the entrance, the whale surfaced right next to Lemara on the port side, looking at me with one, wrinkled eye. This is the closest I'd ever come to a whale. Three feet away! I felt suspended in time. In this moment, is all of time. I could see every detail of the white barnacles on his head. The S curl of his mouth. The wrinkles around his small eye. I was captivated and felt the same sensation as I felt when my dog and I had an exchange, a few years ago. The sensation of complete communication, without language. Of being ONE with the creature, and by extension, with God. “Greetings” I said, in my head, still trapped in the confines of language to express emotion. I'm not sure what the whale equivalent of the greeting emotion is, but I had a sense of belonging that lingers till this day.

And then Lemara spoke again: “Now look to your right” she said in her soft, clear voice that rang like a bell in the mist of my mind, focusing me once more.

I looked right and there, almost on top of the boat, was a pod of twenty or more dolphins, all airborne, their small, sleek, bowed black bodies, frozen in flight, at a slight angle to the boat in the direction of the bow. Their naughty eyes bright, their lips curled in a perpetual smile. Again, time slowed to a standstill. While there was no physical sound, a cacophony of squeaks and whistles filled my mind as they sailed through the air for what seemed an eternity, before plunging head first into the water and disappearing under the boat, some touching the keel with their sides making a “toc” sound. I was dumbstruck, trapped in a time lock, eternity in a moment.

“Like it?” asked the boat with a hint of joy in her voice.
“It's wonderful! Thank you! How did you manage THAT?”
“It’s a question of who you know I suppose” she replied. “You had the courage to take me out alone. I asked them to welcome you back. You are now one of us.”
“Thank you” I said once again. Slowly returning to reality, I added: “But now I have other things to worry about! I have to park you between that million rand cat and the wooden jetty, and the wind is blowing North East, pushing me into the Cat.”
“You’ll manage just fine” she said reassuringly. “After your last turn to port, gun the motor to 5 knots and head straight for the gap, crabbing into the wind slightly. As soon as my nose passes the jetty, go into reverse. The propeller thrust in reverse will pull my nose to the right and will slow me to stop.”
“You know best!” I said. I headed for the jetty at a slight angle to the port side and faster than I thought safe!

As I approached, a young man who lives on a boat a few berths away, saw me coming in alone. He ran down the jetty towards me and waited for me to arrive. I reversed the motor as the bow passed the entrance to the mooring, and the boat slowed to a crawl almost immediately, the bow pulling quickly to starboard under the torque of the propwalk.

“Which ropes do you want” asked the fellow seafarer, bending forward to do my bidding.
“That one, thanks." I pointed to the starboard spring. I’ll get the rest when I’m tied up. Thank you!”
“There you are” he said, handing me the rope. “Did you enjoy the sail?”

What could I say? How can I possibly describe to him that I have had a conversation with a boat and a whale today and saw a flight of dolphins just outside the harbor and that, in view of these creatures of the sea, I am now one of them.

“It was the best I could ever hope to have.” I replied.
__________________

__________________
Andrew Roth is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 20-02-2011, 12:26   #77
Senior Cruiser
 
atoll's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: gettin naughty on the beach in cornwall
Boat: 63 custom alloy sloop,macwester26,prout snowgoose 37 elite catamaran!
Posts: 9,310
Images: 75
true beauty

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ocean Girl View Post
One of the many things I love about sailors is there sense of passion and romance when they look to the sea. Even if it is that guy on the old boat that just sits around and drinks beer all day, never taking his boat out, seemingly void of spiritual energy ( for lack of a better word). The sea always sparkles in his eyes. Beliefs come in many different forms, but the sailors "spark" is the same, I love that!

The op seems to be asking about the spiritual day to day, hope it is ok that I start with my first spiritual day..

My first glimpse of my spiritual path was at 19 sailing in the Atlantic. Sailing along, sun shining down on a rowdy deep blue ocean, the warm gusty wind kissing my face. I felt so small sailing on that big ocean. Small but not insignificant, actually the opposite. I also had this unshakable feeling that the world surrounding me was smiling. I leaned my head back and laughed up at the sky. I could feel this beautiful blue place laugh with me, feeling my joy. I knew with certainty that I was not alone, I also knew with the very same certainty that this "presence" wanted nothing but happiness and love for me. It felt like cage doors where thrown open and my real life began that day.

Whenever I am offshore (in good weather ) I feel God smile down on me, a great big horizon to horizon smile. When the weather is bad…

This is such a beautiful world, hope we all find joy in it.
Cheers,
Erika
thank you for expressing,what us challenged mortals cannot express as eloquently
,the more i see,
the more i am convinced of the oneness of everything............... if that makes any sense.....................
__________________

__________________
my catamaran building project updates http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/...36#post2502136
atoll is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 20-02-2011, 12:44   #78
Registered User

Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 329
Send a message via Yahoo to joey69
That is an awesome story.
__________________
joey69 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 20-02-2011, 12:48   #79
Senior Cruiser

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: between the devil and the deep blue sea
Boat: a sailing boat
Posts: 17,314
OK.

So, now that I can see how my pointing at the fact that 'metaphysical' is a misnomer has been completely disregarded by the metaphysic(s) (-ists) of the CF.

So, now that I will use your lame definition of cheap spirituality mumbo jumbo voodoo-tarot-Cohen emotionality.

I will go and buy myself a saddle, and then I will offer you this:

We each and every have something special - being special for very various reasons - and special in all many ways. A memory, a song, an image, a dream.

Now we go out to sea and somewhere along the way we encounter a simile - one will hear the song in the way a seagull calls, another will see the treasured image in a remote place or perhaps recall the treasured memory upon meeting someone else on a long sailing trip.

Now we will get a bit overemotional on such issues. I mean positively - more emotional than usual, which is probably best given the fact how little such positive emotions count in the world.

Now we will call this metaphysical cruising.

To me, every time the dolphins come to play with the boat and when they will turn their eyes towards me as if asking 'what the heck are you doing there, out of the water???'

Probably because I watched the 'Big Blue' when I was your age ...

;-)
Silly, but it works!

Cheers,
barnie
__________________
barnakiel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 20-02-2011, 12:49   #80
Registered User

Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Cape Town South Africa
Boat: Ferro Cement Peter Strong 45 foot ketch called Lemara
Posts: 25
Images: 10
Thanks...every word is true.
__________________
Andrew Roth is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 20-02-2011, 12:52   #81
Registered User

Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Cape Town South Africa
Boat: Ferro Cement Peter Strong 45 foot ketch called Lemara
Posts: 25
Images: 10
Hey Mr. Sea Monster
I may be a little emotive in my writing but hey..that was my experience. And as I mentioned to Joey...it happened like I wrote it.
__________________
Andrew Roth is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 20-02-2011, 12:59   #82
Senior Cruiser
 
atoll's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: gettin naughty on the beach in cornwall
Boat: 63 custom alloy sloop,macwester26,prout snowgoose 37 elite catamaran!
Posts: 9,310
Images: 75
it's something you cannot buy at any cost,
if you try to quantify it "it" is lost.
all one can do is live and share.
hopefully you will get your share as well,good or bad.........
beauty is in the eye of the beholder..... and other cliche's..............
__________________
my catamaran building project updates http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/...36#post2502136
atoll is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 20-02-2011, 13:06   #83
Registered User

Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 329
Send a message via Yahoo to joey69
I hope to have experiences like that some day.
__________________
joey69 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 20-02-2011, 13:12   #84
Registered User

Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Cape Town South Africa
Boat: Ferro Cement Peter Strong 45 foot ketch called Lemara
Posts: 25
Images: 10
Gents and gentesses...I'm off to my bunk. Wish ya'll a blessed Sunday
__________________
Andrew Roth is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 20-02-2011, 13:17   #85
Senior Cruiser

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: between the devil and the deep blue sea
Boat: a sailing boat
Posts: 17,314
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Roth View Post
Hey Mr. Sea Monster
I may be a little emotive in my writing but hey..that was my experience. And as I mentioned to Joey...it happened like I wrote it.
Hi,

To me, nothing wrong with emotive writing. Good belle lettre writing is always emotive.

My post just happened to slot into the a.m. context. An accident to some, destiny to others ;-)

If you look(ed) up my earlier post in this thread I was bashing the 'metaphysical' but having read others' responses down the way I went out and got myself a saddle.

Hugs and regards to you Andrew, and to all reader-ons,
barnie
__________________

__________________
barnakiel is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
cruising

Thread Tools
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Which Is More Forgiving - Cruising Monohull or Cruising Multihull maxingout General Sailing Forum 36 10-02-2010 06:41
Cruising Cat vs. Cruising Mono Performance ssullivan Multihull Sailboats 100 03-01-2010 14:05
cruising log of cruising up the ICW daniel Sailor Logs & Cruising Plans 5 12-03-2008 09:01



Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 20:22.


Google+
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Social Knowledge Networks
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

ShowCase vBulletin Plugins by Drive Thru Online, Inc.