I am always rewarded for bringing my sailing gear with me when I travel between school and home. Maybe that's why I continue to add it to my packing pile, even when I am only going to be home for a few short weeks.
I was rewarded yet again this week, when I got the usual text message: "Can you sail tomorrow night?" After working out a few kinks in my schedule, I sent back my favorite reply: "I'll be there!"
I am at the sweet point where I don't need to ask who, what, when, or where. It's Mr. Rich's J/24, 5:30 PM, at the yacht club. Who else? That question has a different answer every week, which is part of the fun. This week, Mr. Rich represented the upper end of the crew's age range, and 3 of the 4 other crew members were within a year of my age. At other times, I've been the youngest by far. It's always fun, and I always learn something, no matter who I sail with.
I've sailed on boats where I get to do a little more than I do on this particular boat, but sailing is not always about pushing the limits of my ability. Sometimes it's about enjoying my comfort zone.
Last night was a particularly good night. There was the fact that I wasn't sure if I could go, and then the surprise when it turned out I could make it. Then there was the fact that Thursday dawned about ten degrees cooler than Wednesday had, not to mention about 10 knots breezier and 10 units of haziness less hazy. That breeze stuck around all day, putting ideas into my head about how it might, just might, stick around for evening racing. Those ideas strengthened as I drove over the Bay Bridge and saw the white-capped water and felt my car buffeted by the still-steady wind. It looked windy enough to plant that little seed of anxiety in my head. Or is it stomach? Wherever it is exactly that it gets planted, it makes me that much happier when I go sailing anyway and have a great time anyway.
What else? A warm welcome from friends I haven't seen in many months. Just warm enough sun and just cool enough breeze. The overpowering scent of Water Babies sunscreen. Getting a face-full of spray and thinking, Good thing I brought dry clothes to drive home in, rather than, I knew I should have brought dry clothes to drive home in. Hearing my friend say to me, under her breath, "You know, I'm more of a 10-12 knot kind of girl," rather than, "I love it when it blows 20 knots!" Because when I say "Me, too," I can mean it wholeheartedly rather than halfheartedly. Funny how the first statement squelches that seed of anxiety, while the second doesn't do anything for it either way.
Finally, the cherry on top: We're two-thirds, or maybe even three-quarters up the last beat of the second race. There's one boat to leeward of us. They tack, and we lee-bow them. I feel like I can reach out and touch their jib, we're so close. I am sitting on the rail between two friends, all three of us hiking as hard as we can, thinking heavy thoughts, but that boat is eating shoreline on us. Those heavy thoughts start to feel like they really are making my toes heavier, and then we are even, and then we are pulling ahead, and then we are bow-out and shutting the door on them. We put the bow down and we're in the groove, and we cross the line in first.
We do one more race, and then we sail back to the basin. This is the kind of sailing where re-action is sufficient, unlike racing, which demands pro-action. Back on shore, I'm to another sweet point; I hardly ever have to ask What next? Where does this go? or Is this the way?
The boat put away, our boating party breaks up. I walk to my car with the best memento I can take home from Thursday night sailboat racing: an invitation to come sailing again next week.