A MEASURE OF SUCCESS
How do you know when you’ve had a good week on the water? Tanned limbs rather than windburned cheeks, miles of wake trailing astern, or a zenlike feeling of calm from watching the sun sink over a quiet anchorage, taking the hubbub of life with it?
I have a new measure for successful sailing: after a week afloat, my technology disowned me. Handling canvas and rope in a bracing April breeze toughened my office-soft hands and rubbed my fingertips smooth. The biometric umbilical cord cut, I couldn’t make the touchscreen work for days. I might only have been on the Norfolk Broads rather than the open sea, but it did my soul a world of good to be out under those wide, cloud-painted skies. Moreover, it was a novelty to be on a gaff-rigger with a boom that was longer than the width of the river I was sailing down.
Sailors have always found themselves at the junction of nature and technology. Classic boats on centuries-old trade routes continue to work their magic on the imagination and on the characters of those who sail them, as one group of teenagers found on an Atlantic circuit in Jolie Brise (p22).
At the other end of the spectrum, a new breed of digital nomads are earning a living while cruising far and wide (p52).
Whichever philosophy you prefer, the sensation of harnessing the wind to reach your destination is still at the heart of why we love sailing. At least, it is for me. It might be tempting to hoist the rags and sit back, but you could be getting a lot more out of your boat. For very little effort, you could make life comfier on board, more enjoyable for your crew and that extra speed might just get you there for closing time (p38).