July 12, 2016
It becomes a ritual of sorts, watching the boats wake up and watching the life stir around on them. It becomes familiar, an essential piece of the day’s starting, like the practice of reading the newspaper in the morning over a cup of coffee. One can always tell when we are about to take sail and leave a place, the exact moment that the stillness of the morning is disturbed and ripples out.
Chaotic motion, like ants erupting from the opening in their small hill, spilling out over their landscape; our students erupting from the cockpit and spilling out onto the decks, grabbing towels from the lifelines and throwing them back, grabbing life jackets, passing them between one another, the nearly audible pause when they finally get their own and adorn the yellow article. Slowly, mechanically, they start to fill into their positions on the boat. Two staggered at the bow of the boat, preparing to untie the line to the mooring ball. One more halfway back, stationed at the mast to relay information back and forth from helm to bow. The mass clump stacks into the cockpit, ready to man the lines to raise sails. The two at the helm, counselor and camper sharing leadership.
A pause, the final stillness of the morning.
Then, they drop the ball and they drift away, turning their sterns to the place they called home for the night, and point ahead to the channel and the day and the new home that lay ahead.
Today, our vagabond travels take us to the Pirate’s Bight on Norman Island, named for the shape of the bay, which looks similar to a bight of line. It is a dead downwind sail from Cooper Island, so our day was filled with lessons about downwind sailing, focusing on the differences in sail trim from upwind to downwind points of sail.
After the lesson, it was all about practice, practice, practice. Each boat sailed their vessels to the Bight and, upon our arrival, every single student also sailed on Opal Bella – our 26ft keelboat. On this boat, one learns by feel and less by whiteboard instruction. As they play with sail trim on the small boat, turning between downwind and upwind points of sail, they get to feel the differences in how the boat moves when plunging into opposing waves versus surfing down their sloping curves; they get to hear how the wind sounds louder when closer to the wind and how it becomes a light whisper on a downwind point of sail.
Tonight, we celebrate our learning and yet another day along this adventure together by heading to shore for shakes and smoothies and games all together!
The greatest challenge during the program was staying entertained during the quarantine period. Not being able to leave your boat and not having a phone, which was a crutch against boredom, it was difficult at first to stay entertained.