We raise the mainsail with one reef in it, anticipating the strength of 25 knots as we tack our way up the Sir Francis Drake Channel into a strong current.
The moment I cut the engine off, it takes a minute for the throbbing echo to stop resounding in my ears. I’m tempted to call what follows silence, and for a minute all seems quiet.
I listen closer. I pick up on subtle noises all around me. The sound of the wind filling the sails, blowing the lose lines, rattling against the mast or shrouds. There’s the boat pounding over swell and slamming down into the trough of a wave, like a loud smack. The dinghy slices the sailboat’s wake.
The wind and water creates a complicated song that I can finally hear without the dull drone of the engine, giving me clues on how to trim the mainsail and steer the boat.
I feel gusts on my face or ears before I see it on the water.
I flirt with the edge, steering into the wind and asking Sarah to sheet in the main tight over the boom, trying to reach Virgin Gorda in something closer to a straight line than zig-zagging at ninety degree angles.We prepare to tack and I drive the wheel hard to starboard, but with the main reefed, the Kazejin is no match for the strong current. The bow points into the wind and then gets blown back to the port side.
“Raise the jib,” I call out to Sarah. My voice sounds frayed and frantic even to my own ears.
Sarah cranks in the jib sheet and I release the furling line, and the jib fills with air, powering up Kazejin and the boat heels over until the rails skim the water’s surface.
Tobin’s curled up in the cabin, tucked up in a ball taking a nap. Sarah and Maya shift their weight to starboard, but the Kazejin stays leaned over.
We finally have enough speed to power through a tack. I steer into the wind and let out on the jib so Sarah can pull it in on the starboard side.
I get in a zone of feeling the wind, steering closer upwind when I feel a gust, readjusting for the swell. Everything else falls away.
Sailing requires constant movement, studying the sails, letting them out or sheeting them in, shifting my weight to balance my body on the tilted floorboards.
It’s just the wind, swell, Sarah and I, sailing.
Hours pass like that. Tacking into the wind, reading the chart and making sure we know which islands we pass.
As we get closer to Virgin Gorda, we point north on a beam reach. The boat settles flatter and we stay on the same point of sail for the rest of the way.
Tobin pokes his head up the companionway. My heart swells with the sight of his smile. He’s been out of my mind during the intensity of tacking upwind, but now seeing him the experience feels richer, somehow deeper.Tobin helps me steer and I smile up at the sun, soaking up the abundance of the moment. I am the luckiest woman in the world to have these worlds overlap, that I can coexist as a mama and still get sideways.