An American Scene

The wharf in Oakland at Jack London Square was beautiful last September — bright with fluttering colored pennants, white sailboats, and blue sky.

How many Americans spend summer days on the water, working the rudder and sail, skimming across the water ahead of a fine warm breeze?  One of these days, I need to learn how to sail.

Sailing

Chuck and Laura have purchased a catamaran, and we have gone sailing twice. The first time we got caught in a storm that rolled in quickly and unexpectedly, and we ended up having to beach the craft and walk home in the rain after being rescued — perhaps unnecessarily — by the diving boat of a nearby resort. The next day, which was sunnier and calmer, Chuck and I walked down to get the catamaran and then sailed back.

Sailing is a very pleasant way to spend the day when the sun is shining and the breeze is mild. It is peaceful out there, scudding along the surface of the waves and tacking back and forth. It’s easy to see how people can become almost addicted to sailing. When you are caught in a storm, however, you quickly appreciate the risks. The sky turns dark, rain pelts down, the sail is snapping angrily in the gusts of wind, your craft is pitching and rolling with the whitecaps, and you just want to be back on dry land.

Sailing would be a fun thing to learn, and an important part of the learning process would be figuring out when it is safe to venture out onto the water.