Wool socks and velcro tevas. There is salt in every corner of my cheap Casio watch. The airport terminal is busy and loud in a way that is beyond comprehension when you come from being on the ocean, far from land. It is not to say that out there it was not loud, or that it was not busy. It is the busy of ultimate wilderness.
I recall my first passage down the North Atlantic. When I need to calm myself I think of those vast vast swells from the east rolling over from Africa, the water looking like mercury in the moonlight. The wave height so tremendous, and the wave period so long and consistent, it looked as though the whole of Earth's heart was beating, and I could see it. Every bit of it was alive.
Home on the pier in the summertime, I find great pleasure in drinking lots of espresso in the morning and checking my wind apps, watching the sky. I enjoy being observant of these things. I am coming to understand that this is a fortunate way to be. Daily looking skyward for my information, less so into a tablet.
Sailing is most about observation of elements and timely response to them. It is a dance of balance and form. When the wind fills the sails on a port tack, head to wind, I am sailing to the luff of the topsail. It is in the light quiver of the belly of this sail that I know the other headsails forward of the mast and our mainsail are fully powered. As we reach the approaching shoreline I start to play through our tack in my head. Are we getting lifted, or are we getting headed? I feather Frances as close to the wind as possible with as little variation to the rudder as can be managed. With a neutral rudder and good hull speed I throw the helm to port, forcing the bow through the wind and start to spin the helm back as soon as I sense we have won the new tack.
I write all of this in response to a question I never know how to answer well. I get asked if I get bored of my work, if I get bored of the sailing. Usually the question surfaces on a light wind day. My answer, without question, is never. It is that we, none of us know, what is just around the corner. The nature of sailing is to be constantly adjusting so when change does come you are in a good position to receive it. It is a beautiful way to live, on this living breathing body of water beneath our hull.
A long answer to an easy truth.