Stepping from the gangplank to the deck of the Guayas, one of several “tall ships” in New Orleans last weekend, ignited memories of sailing.
Though the sails were furled the ship seemed like a racehorse waiting at the gate.
I’d like to have seen the sails billowing, heard the slightest luff in the canvas and felt the big sails gathering the power of the wind.
Moving briskly under sail provides an invigorating feeling unlike any other I’ve experienced.
It combines the zest for speed, the spray of water and the feel of partnership with natural forces.
Reliance on the vagaries of weather creates a sense of adventure, especially if the sailing is part of a trip.
Most of my sailing experience has been on small boats. Little catamarans excel at giving the thrill of speed especially when the wind is stiff enough to get one of the pontoons off the water.
Changes in the wind, the need to tack and maintaining an eye for storm clouds all keep the ride from ever becoming monotonous.
Sailing can also provide a great feeling of teamwork when a crew works together well.
Even on small boats, sailing with other people is more fun than lone ventures.
Sailing elicits smiles and laughter though those can quickly be replaced by grimaces and frowns. Either case is better experienced with someone else.
I fondly remember teaching my younger son the rudiments of sailing and watching the ecstatic look on his face.
My limited experience on bigger boats has produced added feelings. One of the ones I like the best is the feeling of being on a trip with the anticipation that the next port brings. The sights along the way can be surprisingly interesting even in blue water.
Big boats have drawbacks, including worry about damaging an investment.
I’ll admit to one trip where we ran aground at nightfall and had to be towed.
My favorite big-boat trip was helping to crew a yacht across the Gulf from Florida.
The small group on board formed a camaraderie that makes a difference in the confines of any sailboat.
The trip combined periods of relaxation — including playing bridge and chess — with moments of teamwork.
We sailed through an invigorating nighttime storm.
In the daytime, dolphins swam with our bow, and at night, luminescence trailed in our wake.
The tall ships also revived boyhood thoughts of the romance of the sea that led me to get my merchant marine license even if I chose college rather than the high seas.
The ships also brought a resolve to get back onto the water.
Advocate Florida Parishes bureau chief Bob Anderson welcomes comments by email to banderson@
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