Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Not Sailing

These days my preferred means of locomotion is the Bonneville. I like riding it rain or shine, day or night, commuting or for pleasure. I don't get to ride it all the time as I have a dog and a wife and sometimes one just needs a trunk. I just passed 56,000 miles on my four year old Triumph so we have a few trips together under our belts. Every one of them was fun.

Sailing on the other hand is, my wife and I decided together, a means to an end. When we think of getting back into cruising it's the destinations we think about not the night watches, the long stretches of open water, the constant decision making under way, traveling day after day at walking pace. For some people sailing is as much fun as arriving; they enjoy the ride the way I like being on my motorbike.

A 30 foot Gemini was coming in to Bahia Honda, for a night at anchor. My wife and I sailed a newer version of this catamaran from San Francisco to Key West at the turn of the century so I enjoy watching them on the water bringing back happy memories. Geminis are built in Maryland and are designed as fast cruising boats, lightweight, comfortable and designed to take advantage of the wind. Yet on a pleasant breezy day this Gemini was laboring along, downwind under motor.

I could see they must have had the mainsail up earlier and I hoped they had enjoyed a series of downwind tacks to Bahia Honda but watching the boat roll to the waves under motor reminded me why next time I take off I'd like to be able to afford a power boat. A sailboat is a bit like a convertible car.

Watching the little plane buzz overhead at that moment my feelings about internal combustion were reinforced. The thing is, when you have a sail there is the obligation to use it. A sail demonstrates skill and romance and a oneness with the sea that a stink pot power boater will never appreciate or understand. A sail marks the skipper as an outdoorsman and self reliant tall silent type who squints and sees new worlds over the horizon that we lesser mortals can hardly even imagine never mind visit under nature's power alone.

A convertible costs more money to rent or to buy yet how often do the drivers actually convert their cars? My wife is the exception, she converts her Sebring every time she drives. If it's cold, relatively speaking, she turns on the seat heaters and if it's hot she likes to bake. Me? I loathe convertibles as I like tinted windows, air-conditioning and no distractions while I drive...Yet like so many sailors who never sail how many people rent or buy convertibles and never convert them? That there are thousands of low mileage motorcycles never ridden warms my heart as I know thee is an ample of lightly used spare Bonnevilles for me to pick up if I wreck my current high mileage model.

I am no one's idea of a swashbuckling sailor and I would look forward to going to sea with a strong motor, a warm pilot house and no moral requirement to judge the strength of then wind to raise the sails. If you don't have sails no one expects you to raise them.

I expect they very much enjoyed sitting in the deep bay of Bahia Honda looking at the same stars overhead that I see from my own deck on land. I also got to ride the Bonneville to Key West which, if it isn't already clear, I look forward to much more than I ever did leaving the safety of an anchorage for the great unknown of the deep blue sea. That's what I tell myself anyway, on my way to work.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Brady Steffl said...


I had some friends who were really into bicycling while I lived in Virginia - always talking about how phenomenal it is, etc etc. While you can't drown on a (typically) on a bicycle, the idea is the same, we don't need any help!

After riding 12,000 miles this year, I think I'll stick to my motorcycle. (Until I can no longer afford gas, anyway.)

Behind Bars - Motorcycles and Life

Conchscooter said...

I was called in for overtime last night and rode in at 9pm. For some reason it was a fantastic ride, no obstructions, cars moving properly and little enough moon the sky was a canopy of stars.
I left home annoyed and got to work feeling a lot better. Couldn't have achieved that on a human powered bike or on a wind powered sailboat ( I couldn't have arrived on time by sail at any rate). I managed the mood change on my Bonneville.