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Making memories

By Daria Blackwell

Part of the joy of sailing is sharing it with friends.
Have you ever noticed that when you settle into a routine and do the same things day in and day out, one day kind of meshes into another and suddenly time goes by and nothing stands out?  You can’t remember what you’ve eaten, where you’ve been, or who you’ve talked to.  You can’t pick out anything specific you might have done.  You’ve missed several weeks of life and you’ll never recover them.

A couple of weeks ago, I was telling someone who is bored with her life that I work hard to make stories in my life.  Each one of those stories has the potential to become a great memory that brings a genuine smile along with it. That’s where sailing stands out big time.  Sailing makes stories all on its own.  Many of them become “fish stories”, getting bigger and bigger every time they are told.  These stories tend to stand out, each one becoming a unique pearl that gets retold for years to come. 

Like that time we got caught in an unpredicted fog and sailed all the way from Norwalk to Mystic by radar, GPS, and braille because we thought it was safer than trying to make our way into an unknown harbor.  Then there was the time that lightning was suddenly all around us stitching the horizon like the needle of an electric sewing machine.  There was the glorious day last week when we sailed from Rye to Stamford twice in the same day because it was so much fun.  Then there was the weeklong cruise when it poured rain every single day. And the week where we had so much wind we tucked into Narragansett Bay instead of going to Martha’s Vineyard and discovered a delightful new cruising territory. 

There was the day after 9/11 when the silence on the water was totally deafening - no planes, no trains, no trucks or cars on nearby highways, no commercial boat traffic, no noise.  There was the glorious day when we sailed with hundreds in New York Harbor celebrating the re birth of New York one year later and mourning the lives lost on 9/11 with the fam ily of a victim onboard

There was the season when we had different friends onboard every single weekend and have photos of their riotous smiles tucked into our memories.  There was the time we raced in a serious race with just the two of us onboard.  There was the time that we had not one, not two, but three named storms chasing us from harbor to harbor.  And there were the magical nights alone on watches offshore.  There was the day we took part in a search and rescue of a downed plane. And the day we spotted a lone inflatable that had been reported missing and called in the coordinates helping the owners recover it.

There were times on distant shores that stand out only too well.  Like the day we pulled up anchor from a cove between two seemingly uninhabited islands in the Bahamas only to pull up a cable.  There was the day on the Chesapeake fishing for crabs and being eaten alive by the state bird – the mosquito.  There was the day in Ireland watching hundreds of Mirrors with their red sails vying for position on the line with the backdrop of holy mountains.   There was the day in Fiji , where the colors peering out from under the water were more brilliant than any words could describe.

There was the day with the awesome sunset in Oyster Bay, Price Bend, the Thimbles, Rye, Newport, Block Island, Milford, Port Jefferson, out at sea, Cuttyhunk, and, oh yes did I mention Hawaii, Fiji, New Zealand, the Bahamas, the Virgin Islands, Bermuda, Ireland, etcetera.  Every sunset is a totally different spectacle and I can describe hundreds I’ve seen on the water, but very few from my office or house.

And then there was the time we were teaching a newbie to sail in our Trinka.  After a very successful lesson and while returning to the mother ship, we dumped the dinghy, lost the mast and sail overboard, were rescued by a good Samaritan, then snorkeled and recovered the lost mast and sail in 20 feet of murky water!  We learned a lot of lessons in that one, including what we have to tie down, the great value in wearing a lifejacket, and the huge value of carrying a baler.  Most of all, we learned the lesson of attitude making all the difference between adventure and ordeal.  We ended the day with great smiles, a sense of achievement, a new memory and a big new story to tell.  Our good Samaritan, who towed the dinghy in and guided us to the recovery of the lost gear, has a great story of his own, which he and his wife demonstrated by jumping up and down on their deck while cheering our recovery at full tilt. 

Most recently, there was the day when we took several children from the Maria Fareri Children's Hospital out to watch the regatta for the benefit of the hospital. None of them had ever been on a sail boat. All have had little to celebrate recently. We hope to have given them and their parents a small memory to ease their spirits just a bit. If the ear-to-ear grins at the helm were any indicator, I'd say the day was an outstanding success. One thing we did not expect, was how much we would gain from the experience. I will certainly remember both the day and the children in great detail for a lifetime.

Sailing makes every day on the water stand out.  It is always different, always new, and always a story.  Sailing makes living easy.  You don’t have to work at making stories and memories happen. They happen all on their own out there.   So get out there and make some stories.  And be sure to tell us about them, you hear? 

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