I do not dwell on the pleasure that I get from being a schooner captain. Operating the vessel required too much of my attention. Holding course, checking sail trim, monitoring traffic, keeping an eye on passengers, listening to radio traffic, weather…and the mental scan repeats.
At the time, it does not feel like work. It is both what is required to satisfy my ongoing concerns and what is required by the definition of good seamanship.
The crew is alert and professional. Their interactions with me are crisp and specific. They work the boat like seasoned mariners, even those that are novices. Their involvement with the passengers is cordial, inviting, and entertaining.
We are all working independently together to create a lasting memory for every client. And undeniably, we are shaping recollections for ourselves.
It is not until we have returned to the dock that we collectively release a breath of accrued tension from the 2 hours underway. For a few moments between sails, we are no longer captain and crew. We are friends and peers (age differences notwithstanding). We laugh. We rest. We eat. We discuss our individual pleasures in our tasks and we recognize the tired smiles that we wear.
There are stories of how our lives have reached this intersection. Some heads nod in familiarity. Some eyes widen as unacquainted histories unfold. However in the end, we are all the crew of a proud and historic schooner.
In quiet moments before the next and last underway, I sit and reflect. I think about the route that I have traveled to arrive at this point in time and space. I briefly wish I had started earlier but really, I am quite content with who, what, and where I am. I recognize signs of physical weariness. But mentally and emotionally, I am already back at the helm. And now, it is time for my body to follow.
With some logistical complexities, we complete our last cruise of the day. It was a lovely, pleasant sail. We only set the foresail. It was a good sail nonetheless with live music on deck. One more docking. One last thank you and farewell to guests. One quick look at another golden sunset…and it is time to head out of the marina and anchor for the night.
As I am shuttled back to shore (I have left the mate in command), I took a look back on the Meerwald as the rays of sunlight melt up her rigging. I smile. It was a good day. I don’t know if my smile is visible in the dimming twilight. I feel such gratitude to the captains who trained me so diligently, to the crews that have welcomed me so earnestly, and to my family that has allowed me to fly so freely. The next morning…and even after a short night of sleep…I am told that the excitement in my voice is still quite perceptible.
I love what I do. It makes me whole. I feel a peaceful coexistence with Nature while yet acknowledging my subordinate place within it. This is a dream. I am living my dream and it is not lost on me that I may well be in the minority. I cherish EVERY moment. It is my dream…and it comforts and soothes me always. While most can discern my pride, joy, and deep satisfaction, I acknowledge that many do not comprehend. I get that my ability to adequately convey how I feel about THIS experience is limited or at least misaligned with the empathies of some of my listeners. It frustrates me but I am secure in my place.
It is an oversimplification but I love what I do.
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