Here's a preview of the story I'm writing about the sailing trip from Annapolis to the British Virgin Islands. The rest, if you're interested, when the magazine comes out. —DM
Almost half of a sailing passage takes place in the pitch dark. Much of that time is lost to blank-minded staring, but some of it isn't.
Alone on a flat-water night watch on the Baja Ha-Ha [from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas], I saw phosphorescent dolphins swimming alongside the boat. In a raging storm on Lake Michigan I held the wheel at due north for two mad hours and then, relieved and sent to the high side, giggled hysterically until near dawn.
And on this trip, as on the other two, there was the thrill of the dark bunk on a fast sail. “Feels like an ungainly rocket ship, not a boat,” I wrote in my journal the morning after we blasted down the Chesapeake. “It feels as though you’re plunging not through water but through space, and not at nine knots, but at 900.
“In the dark of the cabin, so unconnected to the water does this shaking and skidding and rushing feel, that half-sleeping mind imagines the sound of the water streaming in gurgles and pulses past the hull as the sloshing of bodily fluids, the sounds of a sea we contain within.”
Of course, less rhythmic night seas produce less lyrical journal entries. “Last night’s sleep proves the theory,” I wrote after a night bouncing insanely between hull and lee cloth and back, “that a person tossed out of a high enough building, would eventually fall asleep on the way down.
“But it wouldn’t be a great sleep,” I added. “I find myself on watch, staring into the starry blackness, seriously contemplating a book idea. But I never get further than the title. Should it be, Assholes I Have Known? Should it be the more constructive, Assholes to Avoid? Or should it be the elegantly simple, Types of Assholes? I spend at least one whole hour failing to make this decision, my reverie interrupted only when the coffee pot that I have not fully replaced in its holder shatters all over the galley floor.”