Today I began studying for my sailing certification test coming up on March 25th. My mind is being filled with lots of terminology as I try to remember points of sail, standing rigging, running rigging, and start playing with formulas for determining hull speed and converting knots per hour to miles per hour.
As I read my textbook I am recalling all the questions I had during our week sailing with friends last summer. Now hearing the skipper ask for adjustments to the the boom vang makes sense, as does hearing the term of being on a close reach.
I have always enjoyed looking at sailboats, but now I am noting their rigging and testing myself on the terminology. When I look at this image I made one morning while we were anchored at Sucia Island I am picking out the upper and lower shrouds and spreaders and noticing the mizzen sail that indicates it’s either a ketch or a yawl. I’m guessing it’s a ketch rigging.
Perhaps the most significant idea I am taking away from today is the remembrance that a rope is a line without a job. I am thinking about raising and lowering sails with the halyards and trimming the sails with the main sheets or jib sheets. I will need to pull out some rope to relearn to tie the various knots needed for rigging a sailboat. I hope they will come back to me from my days of rock climbing. My brain tends to keep things from me on a need to know basis. I think I will need to know this soon!
This week I will concentrate on the parts of the sailboat and proper rigging. In the days to come I will work on tactics and navigation. There is a lot to take in and yet I am feeling calm about it. Perhaps it is just the proverbial calm before the storm.
I suppose since today is Sunday I shouldn’t forget to make note of the pulpits and the life lines that keep us safe all along the deck and cockpit. Sailing is an activity that offers lots of reasons for prayers.
I think what I am most excited about is recognizing that knowledge mitigates the risks factors. As I watch videos of people making ocean crossings I am realizing that the initial fear of such a feat is born out of a lack of understanding of wind and boat design, as well as the infinite combinations of waves, currents, hull speed and navigation.
Perhaps what is most poetic about sailing is the idea that virtually nothing is consumed to generate the energy necessary for movement. By trimming the sails properly we can sail windward on a close reach and through the process of tacking back and forth we can move towards destinations that are upwind. With 71% of the planet covered in water, sailing gives us the ultimate freedom of movement and a means of coming closest to living in harmony with the forces of nature.