The Lure of Sailing: An Inner Look

This writing is a reflection more than a praxis on sailing.  Sailing is more than just know-how, though know-how is utterly important.  I would find it interesting to hear others’ inner thoughts about being on the water.  To love what you are doing is to find inner balance, which, in itself, is a corrective measure.

The San Francisco Bay and beyond to the Pacific off-shore is never quite still, but always moves in its own cadence, showing nature at its best, or at least most magnificent, while luring us to a fuller life.  The marine environment is obviously alive, in comparison to some of our own lives, which are often without any cadence.  The sea becomes a magnet; it is from where we all originate and leads us into a relaxing yet vigilant state of being.  Yes, even in a storm one relaxes in order to find the right path.  To sail is to be one with this energy, while never really finding yourself alone.

Sailing is a lure for a number of reasons, but one is often the attraction to what we are not about in this distractive world, that is a life force that vivifies.  There are so many distractions in our life styles that deaden us to the senses; the sea awakens the senses.  The splash of salt on the face awakens something within, which is beyond language itself yet is manifest of a grandiose spirit.

Those of us who are lured by sailing, here at Tradewinds, start with the Basic Keelboat, and as we sail within the initial assigned boundaries, we look out to the Bay and we are lured more, so we enter Basic Coastal Cruising, and then make our way to the boundaries of Raccoon Straits or the Bothers, but boundaries often disappear upon arrival; then new boundaries emerge.  We are often magnetically pulled towards the outer boundaries of the Bay and take Bareboat; upon finishing each boundary we kind of enter a sublime state of vastness, if only for a moment or maybe more.  We accomplish sailing the Slot and under the Golden Gate Bridge but the Farallones lure us on.  The lure continues, so we take Advanced Costal Cruising and sail on.  For some a boat eventually becomes home and the sea just a platform to sail anywhere on which you are in command but never quite in control.  It is all a kind of therapy, and when sailing in a club like Tradewinds we reflect off each other.

To maybe get this feeling about the magnetic sea, upon which I am trying to expound, let me quote from Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, in which he comments on the many people in 19th century Manhattan, where:

“…commerce surrounds it with her surf.  Right and left, the streets take you waterward.  Its extreme down-town is the Battery, where that noble mole is washed by waves, and cooled by breezes, which a few hours previous were out of sight of land.  Look at the crowds of water-gazers.”

So even driving our vehicles to go sailing we experience traffic, smog, and often-ugly sights of commercial signs while maybe listening to repulsive radio, of which we turn on so time goes by.  Yes, “commerce” yet surrounds us, but as soon as we see the bluish Bay from the vehicle we drive, a placid smile comes to our face and we have to stop staring at the water so that an accident does not occur.  That placid smile is a sign of consciousness.

To sail that Capri is to feel the wind first hand, almost shaking hands with the breeze itself.  To eventually sail that thirty-footer is to feel and understand the currents, almost as a dance, and to sail that forty-two-footer is to take you to a different world altogether, almost as if on a cloud, but really you are now at home, being part of the sea.  You then relax and an emptiness comes yet a fullness takes over.  There is balance within, almost a kind of yoga, which, from the Sanskrit means union or connection.

Such insights, as stated above, are possible feelings of which we have but are not quite aware, or maybe we are well aware?  To be sailing is an elixir from civilization, but at the same time it is a mini civilization of its own kind.  Sailing is an order that brings about a freedom of soul while erasing the toxic self.  For that reason it is never lonely to sail.


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3 Responses to The Lure of Sailing: An Inner Look

  1. Jeffrey says:

    This article really captures the essence of the sailing feeling for me. Thanks!

    Also, I appreciate the comment on “repulsive” radio…

  2. Chuck B says:

    There is certainly something to be said for getting away from it all — and the sense of peace when the sails are up (and the engine is off!) and it’s just you and the elements.

    Also check out the book “Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do” by Wallace J. Nichols.

  3. Herman Haluza says:

    Thank you for the book recommendation; I just ordered it. That I teach a class regarding “The Fragile SanFrancisco Bay,” I might assign it to students. Any kind of awareness regarding the environment can only do us well.

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