There is something that happens to me somewhere around the second or third horizon. It’s not a conscious thought, but a sublime moment when all of life’s daily concerns disappear. What’s left is now, and the opportunity that lies ahead of the vessel’s bow. Simply put: It’s freedom.
The first time I realized this, I was 10 years old. Before my age of enlightenment, my father kept the family boating time to the confines of protected local waters, with the occasional jaunt outside the inlet along the beach for some fishing on a bluebird-sky day. It was fantastic, but I always looked toward the horizon I couldn’t reach. It’s where I always wanted to go. Perhaps this desire was due to the restrictions on our regular trips, but the allure was real. The pull was strong. I badgered the poor man for years.
One August, he relented and offered to take my brother Chip and me offshore for the first time. The summer doldrums were in full effect, with a fairly predictable wind pattern that started calm in the morning and built to the standard 10- to 15-knot afternoon onshore southwesterly breeze seen almost daily in the summertime. I recall sitting on the engine box — at first, the motor seemed loud and in the way of my thoughts. I looked astern and watched the foamy, white wake fade in step with the low-lying landmass behind us. I soon covered what was left of the coastline by closing one eye and turning my thumb horizontally against the beach. Eventually, there was only sea. I no longer heard the engines — just water running under the hull. Priceless.
Whether it’s the sound of the wind against the rigging as it billows the sail propelling your craft to far-flung waypoints or the hum of a diesel as your sport-fisherman trolls the salt looking for that fish of a lifetime, remember that a yacht gets you to this place, to this sense of freedom. It’s a feeling one can only achieve when what’s left is the present.
Many boaters start their season with this month’s Memorial Day weekend, a time when we remember those who have protected our ability to enjoy this pastime. While we reflect on their service and sacrifice, let’s also celebrate what they gave us. Let’s chase the next horizon. Be present. Enjoy your freedom.