The Elusive Light

Acorns and crabapples fall. Swamp maples flare vermilion. Clumps of leaves on sugar maples turn red and orange. The plants in the flower beds look strung-out, and the weeds and wild grasses yellow. Weather comes from the north again, instead of the prevailing summer southwesterlies, dropping the temperature into the forties over the last few nights.

When we sailed last week, the water in Buzzards Bay had a chillier edge than a few weeks before, and it’s clear as gin. I scraped barnacles off the hull, releasing all sorts of minuscule creatures for the schools of scup to eat. The upcoming month of  September is typically a terrific sailing month (if the hurricanes steer clear of us), though the water cools off so much, wading or swimming to the boat is better left to Iron Men. I’ll have to employ our wobbly dinghy again, the bathtub-with-oarlocks known as Ringy Dinghy, or risk heart failure.

My brother-in-law Tom Piemontese and I tried to sail out to Cleveland Ledge light last Saturday. The light stands sentinel in the middle of the bay, in the distance an entrancing castle-like structure jutting from the watery wastes. The wind blew at about ten knots, an ideal speed for our catboat, but it blew directly from the direction of the light. Catboats are notorious for their inability to point high, meaning you can’t sail right toward your destination. You have to tack. We sailed far into the shipping channel, closer to the opposite shore than our home waters of Megansett Harbor, out among the big vessels and the oceanic odor of sea creatures and iodine and saltwater, out where the shore becomes a mirage. Tack as we did, our course would only describe a zigzag scribble if we plotted it on a chart. We never got close enough to our destination to call it a success. So we eased the sheet and ran for home under the spanking blue sky, making plans to set out for the light once again before the true cold sets in, unless the wind has other plans in mind, of course.

Seaborn got a mention in the recent WoodenBoat Magazine and an enthusiastic review in The Chronicle Herald of Halifax. 

One Response to “The Elusive Light”

  1. Ron Slate Says:

    Your prose is so precise and evocative — such that one wants to crew for you just to be able to talk and write like a true sailor, learning along the way.