It was not the first time
that I had fallen for gentle curves, but never had I fallen so hard. With the tattered relationship now at end I
can only look back and wonder how I let myself be deceived for so many years.
If the sails had any flaws I could
not have seen them - I was blinded by the brilliance of a reflected
I was young, naïve and thrilled to
have a set of sails cut just for me.
Main, mizzen and jib, they were made for me and only me.
And I was made for them.
But it was whispers amongst
friends – and this is how you know who your real friends are – that told me
that something was not right. Questions
about details and measurements, doubts about sail cut and shape. These whispers I did not want to hear. Stuart talked of misgivings. Seth said there were better sails out there
to be had. And Barry, he was already
urging me to move on.
“HOW COULD YOU THINK THE
SAILS ARE WRONG?” I raged. “Haven’t I
told you how we danced together along the edge of the rich green marsh,
caressed white sandy beaches and shared the rhythm of the bow rippling through
calm waters?” It was all so right. How could anybody – especially people who
call themselves friends – find something wrong with that?
Stuart pushed back with questions
about the leech and luff, grommets and goosenecks.
He wanted the details.
“I DON’T KNOW,” I shouted, turning away to
hide my shame.
“I just don’t know.”
In anger I picked up the sails and threw them
“Take them” I said, “tell me
what you find.”
The intervention was done
with clinical precision, like a passionless doctor calmly saying
the condition was terminal. The sails,
the ones I had trusted so completely for so many years, were wrong for me. I was in a state of disbelief until Stuart grabbed some pencils and sketched out the ugly truth. The main, the one I had fastened to the boom and gaff many years ago on
a clear cool spring day before Spartina’s hull ever touched the water, was shy
of luff and short of leech. The gaff
angle was too narrow, the diagonal too long.
The roach was not deep enough and the reefs were all wrong. Simply put, these sails were imposters. Beautiful, beguiling imposters.
This was what I got for being
Looking at the sail plans,
looking at the numbers, I felt betrayed.
I thought of us - sailor and sails - as being one for those many years on the water.
Riding out the storms, ghosting in the calms
– life felt so good I never bothered to ask the hard questions. Ignorance is bliss, and this was a beautiful bliss. Yet c
onfronted with the evidence I knew I
must move on.
Barry, both counseling and
consoling, said a new relationship was the best thing to make me forget the
last one (saying that with a wistful look as if he was speaking from
I knew he was right, but I
also knew that it could be weeks, maybe months before forging that next bond.
It will be a long, cold and dark winter.
Years from now I hope I will
be able to look back and forget the bitterness and anger over the
We did have some good times
The sails did have their flaws, as I had mine.
Maybe that’s what
brought us together. After years of sailing, we found, the stresses took their toll. The relationship began to fray and the romance unravelled like the stitching on the main. Then one day, unsuspecting, we were done.
Across bays and
down rivers, offshore of the beaches and through quiet peaceful marshes, we did
have some special moments together.
that’s what I want to remember.