Sailing Small

14 Jul

People often assume that we are fantastic sailors.  After all, we have made it from the Chesapeake to New Zealand – we must be awesome, right?  Well, I won’t claim that we haven’t picked up a skill or two along the way.  But cruising is a different kind of sailing.  In some ways, your boat turns into your car: a vehicle you use to eat up the miles in order to to reach faraway places.  You can slip into the habit of being destination-focused.  And that is a shame, because if sailing is good for anything, it is good for showing you the world very, very slowly.  If you don’t enjoy the process of getting from here to there, then, brother, you are using the wrong mode of transportation.

Being in New Zealand has been a fun for a few reasons, not the least of which has been getting to day sail.  Imagine, going out in your boat just to toodle around for a few hours, then come back to the same place again!  No watches, no overnights, no cooking ahead for four days at a time – just relaxing with your guests and mucking around with the sails.  You can even see land!  This might be old hat to those of you reading this post, but to me, it has been a revelation.  Sailing… without getting anywhere?  Just for enjoyment?  Crazy talk.

The kids have their passage routines.  Indy spends a good part of every day at the bow, and generally gets annoyed when there isn’t enough spray in her face.  Stylish likes to read in the cockpit and look out for whales.  But neither of the girls really get to sail.  A big boat is all about big lines, big winches, big sails and big forces.  You can get a tiny person at stand at the wheel for a few minutes, but they get bored.  I don’t blame them.

Any dolphins down there today?

Enter the sailing dinghy.  We’ve been looking for a small dinghy for a while now, something we can use to sail around the anchorage and do little sails.  Because, let’s face it – sailing Papillon is a production.  It is meant for Big Sails.  But sailing The Hopeful Puffin takes five minutes of preparation.  And that means it is easy to be spontaneous – when the wind shows up, out you go.  (Aside: the kids named The Hopeful Puffin after Hiccup’s sailing dinghy in the How To Train Your Dragon series by Cressida Cowell – an excellent set of books for middle-graders with a storyline far superior to the movie of the same name).

One fine afternoon, Erik set aside his jobs, plunked The Hopeful Puffin in the water, and off they went.  Stylish took a turn at the tiller; Indy did, too.  And even though the wind died, they had a wonderful time.  The chance to actually be in charge, steer themselves and feel the boat respond was too exciting.

For the past three days, Papillon has been ready to sail north to Opua.  And as soon as the weather plays along, we’ll do an overnight to get there.  We’ll eat the lasagne and the chili I made, we’ll watch the coastline creep by, and hopefully we’ll put the boat through her paces after so long on the hard.  Everyone is looking forward to the trip.

But when we get there and we have the anchor down, I hope there is a little puff of wind so we can wander around in The Hopeful Puffin for a while.


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