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We were driving home after a long afternoon at the lake aboard Charm. Sitting in the car, I can still smell sunscreen even though it has been hours since I applied it to myself. The sunscreen was as pink as a peony when I put it on and it smelled like peach-flavored Hi-C. The thought makes me thirsty, so I grab an apricot-flavored seltzer, out of the cooler from the back seat.

Speaking of fruit, the setting sun appears peach-sized for someone the likes of the giant from Jack and the Beanstalk. It has absolutely enormous and I have never seen it look so gigantic. It is like a Harvest Sun instead of a Harvest Moon. I want to stare at it, but i am afraid I will go blind if I do. Did your parents ever warn you about that, too? Regardless, I steal my eyes towards the sun, in small spurts, despite my fear. I just can not help myself. The flames of the sun, they paint the earthy blue sky in strokes of orange creamsicle and summer ripened nectarine. I lick my lips because it looks delicious as much as it looks mesmerizing.

We drive up, up, and up a mammoth sized hill; the descending sun outstretched rays hide my line of sight upon the road. I am not driving, but in my mind, I grip the wheel more firmly, slow my speed, and I hold my breath. My relief finally comes when we descend down the backside of the gargantuan hill. And it is like this, over and over again, on this highway a relentless 30 mile long roller coaster track.

As we drive up and over these deep, rolling hills, I think to myself that this must be what the setting sun looks like, when sailing westward, on the Milk Run. Only instead of driving up and down late summer, burnt-out brown hills, I am sailing up and down a symphony of forever blue waves. I wish that was what I was doing, where I was. Right now.


27,303 ft. That is about how deep it is under the keel of my friend, Olivias, sailboat, SV Juniper. She will be sailing out on the South Pacific, in the area of the South Solomon Trench, having departed Nendo, the largest island in the Santa Cruz Island chain, which is found in the Temotu province of the Solomon Islands nation. I think about Olivia and Juniper as I sit at the helm and sail Charm for the first time Olivia and I both sailing, literally at the same time, but under such vastly different conditions and in such vastly different situations. Such holds the magic, beauty, and mystique of sailing. Maybe the basic recipe might go something like this:

- Get a (seaworthy) sailboat

- Add water

- Add wind

* Sunshine is optional, but may make sailing more tasty. *


- Possible Answers to Questions Long Awaited.

- Deep Relaxation.

- Automatic Nervous System Reset.

- Waking Dreamtime.

- Soul-Searching Opportunities.

- Fun Level 1, 2, or 3 is User Dependent (see key below).

- Always Be Prepared for the Unexpected.

- Always Learn From Your Mistakes.

- Repeat Steps Above. Improve.

Key to Levels of Fun:

Level 1 Fun experiencing fun while in the moment

Level 2 Fun experiencing fun reflecting back upon the moment

Level 3 Fun not experiencing fun during the moment nor when reflecting back upon the moment

The Epic First Sail aboard Charm was a mixture of Level 1 Fun and Level 2 Fun. Conditions at the lake were super calm, a little over 5 kts, Sunny, Warm, and low 80s. It really was the perfect day to take Charm out for the first time. I know sailors always talk about how fun happens when you put the rail in the water. But, I think this is rather User Dependent when one is assessing levels of fun while sailing.

I would also say that Levels of Fun will vary depending upon a sailors Level of Skills and Level of Experience. Right now, even though I have many years of sailing experience (though I’m by no means an expert), I am perfectly content with keeping Charms rail out of the water. For Now. Athletic sailing will happen all in good time.

As I have mentioned before, sailing is not necessarily like riding a bike, though there is an element of body memory to it, I feel. With a new boat comes learning new ropes, quite literally for me in the case of Charm. Take for example, I am out on the water, ready to unfurl the headsail when I go into an almost complete brain shutdown. I can not remember how to unfurl the darn headsail (I have never used a furling system before). You have my permission to laugh at me and it is OK, I promise it will not hurt my feelings or diminish my desire to keep working towards things. I eventually figured it out and it was not too ugly in the process, fortunately courtesy of calm conditions. (There is a rhyme and a reason to choosing a calm day to take the boat out for the first time.)


The second sail aboard Charm, I am sad to report was Level 3 Fun. It wasn not fun at the time, nor is it fun reflecting back upon that time. I will set the stage for you:

Conditions were partly sunny. Mid 70s. Winds were 9 to 13 kts. We were on the lake, ready to hoist the sails. I go up to the mast to raise the mainsail. To make it a bit easier, I use the winch on the mast to hoist the main when, all of the sudden, I can not hoist the sail anymore. I then realize the main halyard is all jam boned up around the winch. Not paying close enough attention to what I was doing, I have allowed too many wraps to get around the winch, and they are all pinched against one another. The halyard gets stuck. The main is a little over half way up and we are still into the wind with it flappin away. The noise is almost defeanening.

At first, I feel calm. I am standing on deck, still at the mast, and I look around to assess the situation. I decide the wave action out on the water is reasonable for the (extra) work I need to set out to do. I start working to feed the bitter end of the halyard back through the working part of the halyard. I do this for what seems like an eternity. Time begins to feel like it is standing still and my efforts are all for naught. Then, I begin to feel a pit emerge in my stomach because it is taking forever to get things ironed out. I reach a point in my work which the halyard is so tight, I cannot feed the bitter end through the working part in order to free up the halyard. This is when I lose it. Calm Chelle transforms into Panicked Chelle. I feel almost to the point of claustrophobic.

Fortunately, Panicked Chelle does not stick around too long (thank Goodness) and here is where things get a little weird, yet kinda interesting. I resolve the predicament, but if you ask me how I did it, honestly, I can not remember what I did or how I did it. It’s like I went into this trance or something like some other part of myself emerged and she just took care of business, you know what I mean? It is blowin my mind because I truly cannot recall, at all, what I did to get us out of that jam.

And when I say out of that jam, this is what I mean, I was able to get the mainsail down and get the halyard back in working order. What I can also tell you is that in the process of doing that, I realized that we could not raise the main all the way because not only was the halyard all messed up, but I had also messed up setting up the reefing system, on the main, before we had departed the dock that day before sailing.

It is a long story, but it essentially boils down to the fact that, while at the dock, we had to raise the boom, several inches, in order for the reef tack cringle to fit on the horn of the boom. When we did that, it meant that when we tried to raise the mainsail out on the water, we were left with a couple feet of mainsail left to raise, but we could not raise the sail any higher because the head of sail was already at the top of the mast. Huh???

Does any of this make sense? It is OK if it does not because, honestly, I am still trying to figure out what in the heck happened. So long story short, I decided to forget the mainsail, that day, because I wasn’t’ going to dicker-around with adjusting the boom while out on the water. I just did not feel this was very wise, doing it back at the dock would provide more stable conditions as opposed to trying to remedy the situation while out in the middle of the lake.

After said events, per above, unfolded I was upset. Frustrated. We were just going to call it quits, but then I thought, well, who cares if we can’t sail with the main for now. Lets just sail with the headsail (I remembered how to unfurl it, yay!) and that is what we ended up doing. It does not have to be all or nothing. With sailing, there is always wiggle room. You just have to remain calm, let go of frustration, clear your mind and the answers will come. It is just a matter of time. And attitude.