Friday, July 28, 2006

The first sail

We went sailing yesterday. Actually sailing, in our sailboat, alone, with the sails up and the wind in them and the sailboat moving. Karl kept telling me that we didn’t have to worry about the sailing part, that once we got the sails up and the wind in them that we would move, and he was right. There are many things we have to learn, of course—how to sail efficiently is another matter altogether, but it was still absolutely exhilarating, the end result of seven months of hard labor.

We sailed out across Buzzard’s Bay, back and forth a couple of time, cutting a big Star of David across the Cape Cod Channel. We started out under main alone, as Karl’s friend John, a captain with his 100-ton license, recommended. We tacked back and forth a couple of times across the wind, and then finally got brave enough to unfurl the jib. Everything worked beautifully, once we got the sails up, even the cobbled-together roller-furling system, everything. We decided to try to go someplace after sailing for a couple of hours, and cut up into the Channel. The wind was directly behind us then, and running with the wind seems like the hardest thing we tried to do. Another thing we have to learn how to do, but it’s only a matter of practice. So we fired up the engine, maneuvered through the buoys to Onset Harbor, where our favorite pizza place, Marc Anthony’s, is a stone’s throw from the water.

By the time we anchored and rowed to the dinghy dock, the double-crusted gourmet pizza we ordered seemed a perfect reward for a perfect day. The sail back yesterday was a little more tricky—we had to beat across the wind all the way back to Marion, under jib alone, but it was still great practice. All we have to do is get out there as much as is humanly possible in the next month, and maybe we really will be ready to leave come September. It is thrilling, really.

The only wrinkle is that both of us are absolutely purple with sunburn. After the first couple of hours on Wednesday, Karl looked at me and said, “Maybe we should think about finding some sunscreen.” All we had was SPF 4 that I had inherited from my Greek mother, and it definitely did not do the trick. One of the reasons we’re taking the day off today is that neither of us could face another UV ray. We’re also thinking more seriously about investing in a bimini cover, especially because Karl’s fire truck sold! Yet more wonderful news we found out yesterday.

The infamous antique fire truck. Jacob and Seth, Karl's nephews, are climbing on top.

He was asking $2000 for it, and it’s going for $5000, to a fire truck museum in New York, where it will be the oldest fire truck on display. They have a whole team of restorers working on fire trucks, with all different ones arriving from around the country every day. (For the uninformed: this fire truck is a well-preserved 1924 Maxim that’s a family heirloom. It was rotting in Karl’s brother’s backyard before Karl decided to sell it for boat money.) I couldn’t imagine a better home for it, and it more than doubles our cruising kitty. As soon as Karl got the phone call, I saw his eyes sweep around the boat and spend the money all at once—new standing rigging, a spray dodger, a fancy new GPS chartplotter, a handheld depth-sounder, and all the other high-tech gadgets he’s been hankering after. We’ll see.

The best news of all is that we found Fred’s dinghy. It’s rather old news now, but the morning after my last entry, Karl spotted what he thought was a dark blue dinghy blown into some reeds. We rowed there, praying hard the whole way, and salvaged the thing. Now we’ve replaced the rope and secured the dinghy fast so it won’t escape again. But that one awful night, both of us, independently, were wondering if we hadn’t taken a wrong turn. Everything seemed to be going against us. Pieces weren’t falling into place, and at every turn we were met by a new and unexpected obstacle. Now it seems the opposite is true. Doors are opening right and left, our hopes are rising, and the horizon looks clear. I know we’re bound to encounter other hardships, but right now it does seem like I’m moving in the right direction. We’ve found our path, perhaps, at least for the next little while.

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