It was an easy mid-morning drive south on Hwy 17 between the farm fields to the east and the Great Dismal Swamp to the west. A rafter of turkeys, maybe 20 or so, two with their feathers fully spread, walked across an open field. Birds of prey perched on fence poles. The old canal peaking through breaks in the trees.
At the boat ramp in Elizabeth City I took my time rigging Spartina. It was a cool morning and just beginning to warm. No need to rush because it was the first launch of the year; because it was the first rigging since reinstalling the deck hardware; because it was the first time raising the masts with my new hip; and because it was such a fine day. A nice young couple came over to look at the boat, the man asking about the rig. After they walked away I regretted not inviting them to join me for at least a part of the sail sail.
Out on the water the wind was steady but light, perfect for the first sail of the year. I tacked across the river to the marina then back to hospital point. I called my friend Millie to plan our dinner date for the evening. She stepped out of her apartment in what was the old hospital and waved across the water. I sailed northwest to a wide bay lined by bare trees tinted red by their buds. Then a fine sail in stronger winds to Cobb Point, tacking while I learned how to move around the boat with the new hip. The hardware, both my hips and Spartina's worked fine, the new winch handle feeling solid, though I look forward to the brass ring earning a salty patina.
Early afternoon the wind died downriver. Back towards the waterfront I could see the sails of a green hulled sloop working in the breeze. It would be my friend Mike in his Flicka, out for the first time this year, out for the first time with a new set of sails. Motoring in his direction I found the wind again and the two of us spent the rest of the afternoon sharing tacks on the glassy water. As Mike would tell me later that night in an email, "all is right with the world."
Rigging Spartina with the new hip went well, but sitting while sailing took some adjustment. I felt slight aches as I moved around the cockpit, loosening up muscles that had had the winter off. Bringing down Spartina's rig probably stressed the hip more than anything, and I could feel it as I sat in Sidney's Cafe and Bistro for a pleasant dinner with Millie. But no worries, just the after-effects of a therapy session on Spartina.
It was a wonderful day on the water, the conclusion of a long winter and the beginning of the time when I start looking at the ten day forecast to see when we can head out for the next sail.