I looked again at the yellow piece of paper that was written by hand, on it was a list of four names; this was the Student Roster for my class the following morning. “Selma, Wandi, Steven and Hunter”. I said the names over and over again, slightly above a whisper, an attempt to memorize them while finishing my dinner on my boat in Bell Harbor.
One of the most challenging things that I have discovered while trying to teach a beginner how to sail, with the exception of trying to teach on those days where there isn’t a breathe of wind, is to connect a name to a face and then remember those names. “Selma, Wandi, Steven and Hunter”, at least three out of the four names were not very common. Unique names certainly help, they stand out, as for the fourth, all that was required was to remember my own name.
I only get two days to share with a small group of individuals, my fondness for sailing, that too is a challenge. How do I condense into two days, everything that I want to share, the syllabus certainly helps. I stick to the syllabus and then throw in a few anecdotes along the way to help shrug off some of the doldrums of a structured lesson plan. “Selma, Wandi, Steven and Hunter.”
At the end of the two day class, just about the time I have their names down, the faces change and the cycle repeats itself, all season long until I have read and memorized names on a stack of yellow pieces of paper.
Here’s the ridiculous part, long after the multitude of classes and those two days that I get the privilege to spend on the water with constantly changing groups of four, I remember them. I remember the faces and the individual personalities, their anxieties and motivations. Four names.
This is a picture of Elliot Bay on the Puget Sound, the silhouette of the Olympic Mountains in the background.
Taken on August 16, the end of the second day of a class that I shared with Selma, Wandi, Steve and Hunter.

The weekend

The workweek, seemingly filled with tireless human drama and an endless cacophony of distracting sounds.

The regrettable din of the morning commute, a clamor of exhaust sounds, political vitriol on the news, various opinions and discordant arguments; and then there is the alarm clock, that miserable invention, a mechanical Drill Sargent, screaming at me to wake up.

How wonderful is it then, to arise on a Saturday morning, gently nudged awake by a rocking hull and the tap, tap, tapping of a halyard that I forgot to secure before turning in.

Lying there in the v-berth of my boat, teasing me with her motion, tenderly coaxing me to roll out of my bed, almost as if to say, “Wake up, you’ve got to see this sunrise!”

Oh how I prefer the weekend and my boat to that damned alarm clock!

Sail well friends…

This dance…

The sound of water and hull, a warm kiss from the autumn sun on my lips as the wind whispers in my ears. This close reach and the rhythmic beat of hull and wave, the aerodynamic call of the sails and response from the keel.

I hold her hands, tiller and sheet, she lets me lead, though I know that she is the better dancer. I can see people watching us from shore as we waltz. The water is our ballroom and the wind, our music.

My sailboat, she is a lady, the prettiest girl at the dance and in this moment, she loves me and I am in love.

Sail well…


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