I’ve always loved sailing. From the time I used to push my Hobie Cat off the beach in front of my house and just go for it, seeing how fast I could make the thing move or seeing how far up onto one hull without tipping over I could push it, I’ve always dug the feeling of being in a vessel powered by the wind across the water.
And that always included upwind sailing, when the boat is heeled over, the little world aboard exists at a slant, and the boat pitches and hobbyhorses over and through the waves. I never could understand why those people who were sailing around the world — or even just in the neighborhood — would bemoan the lack of off-the-wind sailing.
Now I know. With all of the upwind sailing we’ve done thus far this summer, I’ve come to realize: it’s a lot of work. It makes everything you do on board a challenge. And it’s just plain wears you out.
When just getting out of your bunk is difficult because the floor of your cabin is sloping upwards at 45 degrees, it’s a challenge. When walking a few steps means hip-checking the wall on either side of the hallway with each and every step, it’s a challenge. When using the toilet means making sure you have a three-point stance with your head against the wall and your feet splayed out wide just to make sure you don’t miss, it’s a challenge (my stupid male pride won’t let me sit down to pee unless the boat is really bouncing all over the place).
So call me a wimpy downwind sailor now but yeah, I’m on board, so to speak. Give me those downhill runs, where the horizontal is just that: horizontal, and I’ll be happy. It’s nice when you can sail straight ahead and not go almost 90 degrees out of your way because the wind happens to be blowing straight from your destination. And cooking is a whole lot easier when you don’t have to wedge yourself into a galley before a stove that is swinging wildly with each passing swell.
I may be getting soft in my old age but screw it. Comfort isn’t such a bad thing…at any age.