Drafty Day

Maybe the small craft advisory was overstating the case. That was my hope when I hauled the dinghy down the path to the beach last Friday morning. The air was bracing, the shadows sharp, the sun brilliant, the beach grass flinging slender shadows like pinwheels in the puffs. The tide was so high it almost submerged the rocks of the jetty. The water was clear as blue-tinted glass and only shivered with the effects of the wind this close to shore. By the time I rowed out to Finn, though, where the water had more of a northeastern exposure, a chop stood up and the water surface trembled in the hard gusts. I climbed aboard, my hope for an easy sail thinning. I pumped out the bilge, cut the top off the juice jug I’d brought to make a new bailer, retied the mooring line, neatened up the anchor line, tightened the mainsheet, checked the sail cover, pounded in the mast shims more securely, all the while keeping an eye on the wind as I weighed whether or not to sail. One big sloop headed out of the inner Megansett Harbor, flying only her jib.  The more the wind tore at my chamois shirt and Finn searched back and forth on her mooring, the less alluring the thought of sailing became.

But then the wind would lighten and I’d think “Now this is more like it” and start to plot my moves to get her underway. Moments later the northeast wind would blast us, shattering the water and spurring Finn to dash around on her line.  I know my boat and how heavy a helm I’d have to contend with in the gusts. I’d be wet, and I’d left my oilskins at home. A light airs sailor? The sports who sail the Wenaumet Kittens in every kind of Buzzards Bay blow would scoff at me.

So in the end I opted not to sail but to content myself with sitting in the cockpit, watching the gusts rip at the ensign of another big sloop moored in the inner harbor and whip the dark blue water and greenish shallows into a frenzy of racing ripples and short chop. I gazed at the uniform ice-gray and white tubular clouds lying across the northern horizon, the jagged edge of the open water out in Buzzards Bay, and the onion skin moon drifting above Seal Rocks. I could have sat for hours, the sound of the halyard on the Marshall Cat on the mooring beyond us rapping in the wind and the waves splashing and gulping past our hull.  How many times did I watch the osprey coast to windward, bank, shoot downwind, then turn and repeat its patrol above the water? I lost track, but I found contentment just sitting aboard my restless boat.

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