My wife’s uncle was in town visiting her dad. He’s an avid sailor, but with diminished sailing opportunity at this point in life. There comes a time in every sailor’s life when we don’t feel it is prudent to sail any more. Boats require balance and agility, and things can go wrong quickly, even for able-bodied sailors.
Friday was the perfect day. Temps in the low-70s, breeze 10-12 mph, and not a cloud in the sky. The three of us unmoored about 1445 and set sail on the most convenient point of sail, nearly due east, which gave us north winds just forward of a beam reach. Perfect. I had two capable helmsmen in the cockpit, so I could indulge myself in setting sails, doing the deck work, fussy sail trim, and simply leaning back to enjoy the sun and motion. The only time I touched the tiller was unmooring the boat, and approaching the dock. I loved being with these two brothers of more than 70 years, completely comfortable with each other, reminiscing about sailing, telling sea stories, talking about growing up together, about their children, careers, and lives in general.
These two sailors – Ruth’s dad and her uncle – grew up on Long Island Sound sailing a Lightning in their earlier days, then a variety of sailboats throughout life. Her uncle had also owned a Catalina 30, and sailed as far as one can reasonably cruise on the New England coast from Connecticut. Ruth’s dad had sailed in a Swiftsure race at one point. They both had adventures in the Lightning – an old wooden version of the one-design that had acquired a double-planked bottom at some point, and an extra 300 pounds by racing standards, no doubt due to the amount of water absorbed by the hull.
All told, we made 10 nautical miles that day, out and back. It was just right, but I think we all wanted to stay out a lot longer. Shore life and commitments called us back, but we carry the memory of that golden afternoon in the log book of our minds, filed under “Perfect Days.”