Creative photos and essays from the San Juan Islands

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Wind power

Seawater in our veins

Tranquil in the beginning, then a slight breeze, tangy of the sea, waifs over sloops ashore behind an old net shed at Jackson’s Beach next to the boat launch. Later, a brisk breeze chopping the bay’s surface fills many white sails, as if butterflies flitting over a dense bed of blue iris. The slapping of wavelets against the hull, the zing of Dacron lines through blocks, the sun hiding behind mainsails then exploding into view as the boat tacks. That exhilarating change of direction, shocking in its suddenness, an “oops” moment as the sloop slips into its new life on the port tack, now on a broad reach scooting along faster than the speed of the wind. Science isn’t on the sailor’s mind, and yet physics are everything on this bright day as the sailor turns a bit into the wind and sails on UPWIND! Feeling like a conquerer against the Anemoi, Greek gods of the four winds, this chariot of the sea travels by the wind but also against the wind. Such an act gives the perpetrator a powerful sense of accomplishment, a wee person subjugating Euro, the god of the East wind.

These many boats aren’t voyaging when light upon these waters, they are competing. Race here, race there. Not at breakneck speeds mind you, but all done by wind power alone. Boats, in general, are like young colts in a spring meadow, going gayly wither they choose with seeming abandon. No curbs, no fences, the only obstacles being rocks, islands, and other boats. That may be one of the principle attractions of boating, the freedom to move about with few rules and other determinant factors, pretty much willy-nilly!

These boats face the sea. They are inanimate, yet we sailors refer to them as “she,” and the memories accrued while together, these boats and their male masters, can be every bit as memorable as a date with a live “she” on a Saturday night. So would it be wrong to suspect that with whatever soul they possess, either innate or transferred, they are looking out to sea with anticipation?

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