I am not a proficient sailor, but I sail, nevertheless. I sail with my husband, taking turns as sailor and passenger.
My husband sails no better than I, and so he is fair and patient as I learn. Our little 16′ Hobie-Cat is likewise forgiving.
For long stretches, I might fail to find the wind, to orient the sail and the rudder to use the wind that’s there. In these moments, my husband is quiet, and the sail talks me through it, rustling and flapping encouragement. The boat does not mind if we sit for a while. We cannot break the boat. It is there to help. We find the wind together.
The simplicity is important. With only one rope and one sail, I can focus on the wind’s direction and the boat’s relation to my target. It’s a quietly intuitive practice, a meditation. Give and take. Multi-sensory observation. Balance.
When I find the sweet spot and pick up some speed, I can’t explain how I get it all to work. It’s like a secret between me and the wind and the boat. I have the freedom to fail, and in that freedom, every moment has value.