Still, I have to credit a stop on my ride-about year for leading me to the first and most significant shape in the puzzle. Visiting friends in Painesville, Ohio, I learned to sail! — at night, aboard a 32-foot wooden sloop of unknown design, build and age. When Jake, the boat's owner, suggested that I steer, we were close reaching on starboard tack under genoa and full main. Jake advised me to watch the wool telltales on the windward shroud and keep them flying at about a 45-degree angle. I couldn't see them well enough to discern an angle, so I relied on the feel of the tiller, loading up in the puffs and going slightly soft in the lulls, to keep the little boat on course. When I sailed too close to the wind, I could hear the sails luff and feel the steering go limp. If I steered too low, the tiller felt numb and the boat slowed.