Sailing By the Stars

Sailing by the Stars

My brother introduced me to the joys of sailing. Not everyone can feel the calming effect of the rocking on the waves and the surge of power of the wind. My brother couldn’t wait to show me his new sailboat. We packed a quick supper and escaped to the marina where Fairwinds was docked. Its rounded sides weren’t new, but they were freshly painted and sporting shiny, new fittings here and there.

As a precaution from hurricane damage, he chose a safe place to tie up, deep within the winding bayou canals. After starting its old diesel engine, he set me to steering slowly through the muddy waters, warning me of shallow parts and sharp corners. He tossed the jib sail and more lines up through the hatch, made sure we weren’t too close to shore, and began rigging the sails. In a few minutes we were through the harbor markers and out in the warm, open winds of Lake Pontratrain.

He showed me how to watch the wavering wind vane at the top of the mast and hold the boat into the wind while he hoisted the sails. Upon his signal, I turned port and felt a surge of power flow through the tiller. Nothing compares to that feeling. He gave me free choice of direction, and we chatted as we watched the sun sink into the lake, the sky and the water blending into one red and orange fingerpainting.

As the sky darkened, the edges sparkled with tiny lights, the sky above us also exploded with symphony of stars, and the waters joined in with their reflections. It felt like we were sailing through a sea of stars. He pointed out Saturn and Mars and a few other constellations. Many times we stopped talking to listen to the silence, the only sounds were the swoosh of the waves against our hull and an occasional slap of a line against the mast

My brother pointed out home. “See that bright light beneath the red blinking light on the tower? Sail straight toward that.” Just before we entered the harbor, he had me again turn into the wind to lower the sails. This time, however, it was too dark to see the wind vane atop the mast. I turned the tiller until the sails hung slack, flapping without power.

“Hold it right there!” my brother shouted above the noise.

Looking up, I could see the bright shimmer of Saturn just to right of the mast. Keeping my eye upon it, I held the boat in position. I felt like an ancient mariner, sailing by the stars.

When we approached the harbor, my brother restarted the chugging diesel motor and suggested I go to the bow of the boat to experience the bayou from there. I was very impressed at his skill of maneuvering around the bends and shallows in the dark, using the dark silhouettes as his guide. I could hear the insects buzzing, smell the sweet scent of the swamp grass and the musky odor of the brackish water, and see the shaggy Spanish moss hanging from the cypress trees.

I hated to see the evening end. I would tuck the memories of it into the corners of my mind, to retrieve another day when I might need to escape the bustle of life. I will be able close my eyes and, for a moment, sail by the stars.

For more stories, go to Dancing Barefoot with "A Walk Down Memory Lane".


Linda said...

Yvonne, this was awesome. I almost felt like I was in the boat sailing with you and looking up into the starry sky.

Thanks for joining in Weds. Walk today.

Hop on over to my blog, "Truthful Tidbits" today and read my post.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful descriptions! I knew you had a great time
that day, and I'm glad to hear about it, finally.
Smile. Glad you retained these memories. Sunny

Kathryn said...

What a sweet story. You do write well. How special to have an older brother to share this with.

Thank you for sharing your story.

Sally-Ann said...

You described your sailing experience beautifully! I love to sail, but have not done so for a very long time


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