Setting Sail on Whitsunday

Santa Maria

Santa Maria


Santa Maria went in the water this week. I was down to the marina yesterday to do some work in preparation of raising the mast: a little cleaning, a new light for the mast, pumping out the bilge. There is always something to be done on a boat. Sometimes that something is even sailing this ship.

It is interesting to note that the Latin word for ship – nave – is used for the worship area proper in a church. The church is likened to a boat. The most common reason given is that the ship functions rather like the ark of old: a safe haven while billows rage. Obviously, scribblers of holy writ never sailed with me.

I am a novice sailor and for my few years of sailing, long is the list of things gone wrong. A pair of glasses have gone overboard (along with every sort of tool), our engine has stalled at the most inopportune moments, rocks and shoals have been broached, sheets (ropes for land lovers) have tangled, and once the mast came a-tumbling down. Thankfully no-one has ever been hurt. It was only this last year that my brave wife and I have garnered enough confidence to take passengers on board. So when my legs scissor over the life line and bid land farewell my heart skips a beat: excitement beckons. But it is excitement precisely because an element of risk informs this activity. Sailor knows well the power of water and wind. Ships really do go down.

But even so, there is also a kind of comfort on the Santa Maria. Today I had my first 2013 lunch aboard our boat. I reclined in the cockpit, stretched out my feet, and imbibed my open-face sandwich while watching the long weekend unfold in the marina. I love lounging to the rocking motion of a boat in bay. The sight of cormorants in flight pulls a certain peace from the sky to my eye, to my heart, to my very being. People padding down the docks with ship’s wares – tendering their comforts to vessels of adventure – speak to me of the paradox of life. Just like life, this Santa Maria both animates and pacifies me; it simultaneously satisfies and unsettles me.

Today, “Pentecost Sunday” or “Whitsunday,” is celebrated in churches in the western tradition. This is sometimes called the birthday of the church; the animating and comforting of the church by the Spirit, by the Holy Wind who both drives us beyond comfort zones and soothes our souls. Wild and warm, this Sirocco can be trusted but never second guessed. When we bid land adieu, we broach a new way of being in the world: we sail with a heel, travelling aslant to the perpendicular, wise to the will of the wind, and finding ourselves smiling and glad for the adventure that is life.


19 thoughts on “Setting Sail on Whitsunday

  1. diannegray says:

    There’s just something about being on the water that spells “freedom”! 😀 I absolutely love it 😀

  2. dianerivers says:

    I, too, have a list of “things gone wrong” from having a catamaran in my younger days. But I remain convinced sailing is boating of the highest order – there’s just nothing like it. Hope it’s a thrilling season (in the best possible way).

    • agjorgenson says:

      Thanks! Our mishaps have all really been comical, if not humiliating. Yes, I think sailing is the best. I even love the wok the boat demands… it is fun to work with my hands.

  3. Marie Taylor says:

    Wonderful picture you have presented and I like your tie in with the church. Well done.

  4. Denise Hisey says:

    What a lovely escape you have! I think you are very brave to take on sailing -the water is soothing and lovely to me from shore only. 🙂

  5. Matthew says:

    Aslant to the perpendicular. Glad for moments to join you in that rushing water, wind-driven place, Allen.

  6. jannatwrites says:

    There is something exhilarating about being in the water. On land, man has shaped and sculpted much of the world, but the sea is largely as God made it.

  7. agjorgenson says:

    Yes! I hadn’t thought of it that way, but I think you are on to something. Water seems so very untamed and therefore attractive in a different way.

  8. I’ve just awarded you the Liebster Award –

    I have bent the rules slightly. . . Enjoy.

  9. shoreacres says:

    It’s a bit of an irony. Down here, sailors often hang it up during July and August. It’s too hot, too still, too glassy and sweat-producing to make trying to sail worth while. There’s more racing that goes on in January/February than in August. On the other hand, while you’re still stuck on the hard during the winter, you get to sail in summer.

    Another stray thought: we’re year-round sailors, and that means we miss the beginning and end of the season, just like we miss the exuberance of spring because we have no real winter.

    As for those mishaps – oh, yes. You may not have seen my post on “skinny water”. It comes complete with photos and full disclosure – not to mention my favorite sailing aphorism of all time. “If you ain’t been aground, you ain’t been anywhere.” That one’s really true, for life as for sailing.

  10. agjorgenson says:

    Thanks for the post of “skinny water.” That was great, and especially fitting at the beginning of a season. I kind of chuckled to myself, because in our bay it is more often the case that speedboats are in trouble. A couple of times last year, I ran into speedboats that asked me for a tow, with my 9.9 hp outboard! It would take me a month to tow them in. Usually the most I can offer is a call to the marina if they don’t have their cell or CB. But you are right. Nothing ventured nothing gained. All the same you can always count on some ventures becoming misadventures. But these too can be fun, or at the very least they can make for great stories.

  11. Very interesting subject , regards for posting . “Nobody outside of a baby carriage or a judge’s chamber believes in an unprejudiced point of view.” by Lillian Hellman.

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