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Sailing vs. Sailing
Last week I went sailing with my friend Charles.
We cruised out of the marina at Matheson Hammock on Sunday morning and headed south through the Florida Keys. After mooring for the evening in Blackwater Sound, we pulled up to Shell Key on Monday evening. It took us two full days to travel about 75 miles.
Now I’ve driven through the Keys hundreds of times before – without the undue traffic of an accident on US1, it usually takes about an hour and a half or so.
I’ve also come down by powerboat, and that took roughly five hours. I bicycled down with my daughter once and getting that far also took about two days. And one time my friend Richard Kane, the founder and CEO of VeriJet, flew me down in his brand-new Cirrus jet. That trip lasted all of 15 minutes, even though we started in Opa-Locka (about 25 miles north of Matheson Hammock) and landed in Marathon (another 25 miles south of Shell Key).
Of course, there are lots of practical reasons why our sail took so much longer; we were at the mercy of the wind, we had to steer slowly through narrow parts of the Intracoastal Waterway, and the obvious point that Charles’ 41-foot catamaran is a lot bigger and heavier than my bike, my car, my powerboat, and Richard’s jet all put together.
But there’s another reason that has nothing to do with the functional aspects of traveling down to the Keys – not the speed of the craft, not the method of propulsion, not the size, not the weight.
Our sail to Shell Key was all about the journey, not the destination. With no particular place to be and no particular time to get there, we removed the constraints and pressures of most travel.
When I’m flying to a speaking engagement, I have to be at the soundcheck, the CEO dinner, and on stage for the keynote at a certain time. I’m usually wondering when the plane will land or when the car service will show up because I have somewhere to be.
It’s much the same when I’m traveling for a consulting assignment. My agenda is planned, my objectives are set, and my deliverables are deliverable. I need to be there at a very certain time.
Even leisure vacation travel, which by definition is supposed to be relaxing, is ruled by the clock, what with hotel reservations, theater tickets, museum entry times, and restaurant seating, to name just a few.
But here, our plan was different:
- Leave Sunday morning.
- Sail southwest through the Florida Keys.
- Turn around Wednesday morning.
- Get back to port before dark on Thursday.
Sure, there were some things we wanted to do:
- Grab a fish sandwich at Gilbert’s in Key Largo. (We didn’t, although we did sail past.)
- Kayak into Lake Surprise. (We did – surprise!!)
- Kayak around Shell Key. (We did – and saw three pairs of nesting Ospreys!!)
- Tour Lignumvitae Key (We went on Tuesday, but they’re only open on weekends.)
- Tour Indian Key. (We did – it was the Key’s county seat in 1836 and it’s still fascinating nearly 200 years later).
But other than those few things, the only thing on our to-do list was to sail.
The word “sailing” is interesting because while the noun has a clear definition of the skill required to operate a vessel, the sport of operating or riding in a sailboat, or a departure time, it also paints imagery of tropical breeze, picturesque skies, and clear, blue-green water.
And while sailing most certainly used to be a means of transportation ruled by time and tide, my experiences last week suggested otherwise. For us, sailing was a journey rather than a destination, a state of mind more than a way of getting anywhere specific.
What I discovered was that sailing, whether actual or metaphorical, is something we should all do more often.
Nice memories. I grew up on matheson’s hammock lake no. two. Spent a good bit of my youth in the mangrove swamps and subtropical maritime forests of lower dade co. Many trips and adventures in blackwater sound- renting boats out of Gilbert’s. Fishing the keys…kid heaven. Later, at 15, working at the Miami marine lab on Virginia key and scuba diving the upper keys. Uncrowded, affordable, and unpolluted generally. Sailing out around soldier key, sleeping on deck. Your article certainly triggered some limbic sailing in my ol brain. Thanks for the memories, neighbor. Best, Dr Jeffrey Comanor. Cheers!
Beautiful post. And like the adventure it describes, both the journey and the destination (that last sentence) made it a wonderful read.
Sounds wonderful, Bruce, and very, very much like a road trip.
A friend and I once took such a road trip, which we loosely documented with the occasional use of a miniature cassette recorder. Me, being like you in that this was all about the journey, and him, being completely the opposite, made, I thought, a perfect pair for such an experiment. Later, I turned those notes into a 7-part story titled Six Days Out. One Day Back. A Road Trip. (Or Relaxation Is A Learnable Skill.)
The audio version is available on CD, if you’re ever interested.
It’s about being present. The present has a timeless quality when you choose to inhabit it! And that is what life is about, in my humble opinion.
You brought back many wonderful memories of being on the water in our boat. No plans just go and enjoy.
Not exactly the same, but one of the reasons I love cruising is the relaxation factor and you can be as busy or not to your liking.
Love this post!
I loved the narrative. Sailing is something that captures my imagination, although I have never done it in any kind of vessel, beyond the ones used by the good folks at Shake-A-Leg in the Grove – a program I supported since my first days as mayor in 1985.
Yup. Saw your photos along the way and grinned. Traveling agenda-less is the ultimate luxury. Know where you started and where and (maybe) when you might finish – but leave all that in-between wide open for wandering.