The Joy Of Sailing
The Age Of Sail
Sailing. The timeless art of moving a vessel across the water using nothing but the power of the wind. This ancient form of transportation remained the dominate mode of travel for thousands of years. Sail powered vessels plowed the waters of the first trade routes in the Mediterranean. Thousands of years later, the great sailing warships of the English Armada dominated the western world. Sailing vessels carried and created the colonies in the Americas, forever changing this history of the world. Since the dawn of civilization, sails have dominated the horizon of the endless sea ...
... Until recently. With the invention of the steam engine, the Age Of Sail came to a quick end. In the span of less than 100 years, the great sailing vessels of the world all but disappeared. Sails were replace by the billowing plumes of smoke belching from fuel hungry transport ships that could carry cargo quicker and heedless of the wind or weather. These ships have evolved today into huge magnificent monstrosities that lumber across the ocean with all the grace and majesty of an obese drunk stumbling out of a bar. Unlike their sailing ancestors, the modern transport ship doesn't have to follow the seasonal trade winds. In many cases, they are so massive they barely flinch at the storms that would have boats running for safe harbors in days long gone. The schedule and deadlines of the modern world are what determine a modern day cargo vessel's itinerary ... not the wind and weather.
The magical Tall Ships have sailed into the mist ...
The Heartbeat of Sail
But they are not gone. They are kept alive in the stories, hearts, and replicas that still travel the seven seas, reminding any person who chances to glance upon them that - for longer than any single civilization - sailing has been at the core of what it means to be human. The sailboats of our ancestors changed the world on more than one occasion. A sailboat represents man's desire to explore, quest for the unknown, and challenge oneself. Humankind's affiliation with Mother Ocean and the wind is responsible for more conflict, adventure, loss, and discovery than any other single aspect of human nature.
So even though it is an "obsolete" form of travel, many people today are still driven to cast off the bowlines and raise sail to the wind. Sailing never actually went away ... it just evolved. Even though sailboats became an obsolete way to travel and transport, people just couldn't abandon the ancient call of the ocean and the lure of the sail anymore then they could ignore their desire to eat and sleep. Recreational sailboats quickly became a common past time all over the world. The small sailboat became a symbol of elegance and freedom.
Go to any body of water on a sunny, breezy day and you'll undoubtably see a small regatta of sailboats silently ghosting along gently pushed as if by magic. Their movements hypnotize the imagination and whisper tales of adventure from the high seas. This is the call that millions of people have heard throughout the ages. It is the call of the ocean. And she still calls as strong as ever.
And it is not hard to understand why. When you first set foot upon a sailboat, you feel a connection with the sailors who first laid eyes upon the New World, the ancient humans hauling fish in the Mediterranean, the trade ships following the seasonal trade routes across the Atlantic and the mighty warships that helped to build nations and explore the entire world. But you will also feel a connection with something much more immediate ... the world around you.
Sailing And Life
Sailing on a sailboat is very different from motoring around in a motorboat with its loud engine. With a sailboat, you must feel and rely on the wind to move you to your destination. You can't just point your bow and throttle up. As the wind pushes the boat, you feel her surge with every gust. She heels over and then stiffens up as she cuts through the waves with ease and grace. Instead of bouncing over the waves, you feel the swell beneath your feet and time is not counted in minutes, but instead by the rise and fall of each passing crest. The sounds of the wind whipping through the canvas, the water lapping against the hull, and of winches and halyards raising the sails fill the air.
The silence of a downwind run ...
Working with Mother Nature and simply trying to overpower her is an amazing feeling. While sailing, you become more than just a simple human. You become part of the world around you, dependent on your boat, your knowledge, and the natural forces of our planet. You remember that we are all connected and, although it is possible to move at a faster pace - rarely is it as beautiful or as gratifying. The most important part of sailing is the journey itself ... not the destination. Wherever that may be - don't worry ... you'll get there.
Life is like that too.
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