Monday, May 30, 2011

Leveraged Between Sea and Sky

I'm not sure where the idea came from, but Becky and I thought "wouldn't it be great if we could sail the Hobie kayak out to Marsh Island, catch a fish and then sail back?" This thought has rolled around in my head over the last couple of months. Recently we decided there was no time like the present, loaded up the Hobie Adventure Island Tandem Sailing kayak and headed for Cypremort point.

Becky and I met because of sailing. Back in 1984, windsurfing was a popular pursuit in the area. My search for windurfers that I could convert into instructors led me to the woman I have been married to now for 27 years. We would windsurf on the lake, take night cruises aboard a monohull sailboat that we had and enjoy ripping up the local waters on hobie cats. Sailing has not been as popular as it was back then, but many things about this trip reminded me why sailing is something we will always love.

A quick glance at the water as we drove though the gates of Cypremort Point state park told me a lot about the day we were about to have. The water was rough with the wind whipping the tops of the swells into whitecaps all across the bay. The Nestle Quik color of the water indicated it would be a tall order to catch a fish. Soon the kayak was on the sand. We popped in the sail, attached the ama's and aka's (the pontoons and braces), loaded our lunch, fishing gear, water bottles and a little bit of emergency gear. Within minutes, we were dragging the Adventure Island into the water heading south towards Marsh Island.

We punched through the chop with the sail hauled tightly to stay as close to the wind as possible. We would have to tack (zig zag towards the direction of the wind) since Marsh Island lies south of Cypremort Point. With the sail trimmed and the kayak heeled over onto the downwind pontoon, we raced across the swells. The feeling of freedom came rushing back as we sailed. "The wind is free" is a slogan that Hobie used in their advertising in the 1980's. The slogan pointed out how inexpensive sailing is compared to filling up your powerboat with gasoline price back then at an astronomical $1.20 per gallon.

Beyond this wink at gas prices, the slogan summed up the feeling of sailing. Free from the sound and smell of a boat motor, free from the daily grind, and maybe most of all, free from the feeling of always having to be busy doing something. We sailed south, bouncing across the swell knowing that all we had to do - and all we could do - is sit and enjoy the day. Simplicity is sometimes forced and the simplicity of sailing forces everything else out of your world. It's just you, the water, the wind and the boat. Connected at the same time to the sea and the sky in a leverage that has moved explorers across vast distances for a millennia.

Which is not to say that our situation was idyllic. As our kayak blazed its way through the water, virtually every swell would deposit a load of water into Becky's face. The thought of what would happen if something broke while we were far offshore crept into the back of my mind as Cypremort point faded into the distance behind us - finally disappearing completely. We tried to whoop with joy - but truth be told we were both nervous. No one else on the water other than shrimp boats and a couple of crew boats. I'm pretty sure the workers on these boats wondered what a couple of crazies were doing way offshore in skinny yellow sailboat.

After 2 ½ hours and over 18 miles of tacking southward, we started to wonder what we were doing out there as well. Even tacking and holding the kayak close to the wind, we were northwest of the island, but within sight of Southwest pass. With the continuous drenching, I could see that Becky's goosebumps had turned into shivering. We figured we had maybe an hour of tacking left to get right up to Marsh Island. After a quick discussion of the situation, we decided to turn to boat northward and head back to the point.

We didn't achieve our goal of catching a fish at Marsh Island. Maybe in retrospect, sailing and goals are counter to each other. Or maybe they should be. In any case, we left the goal out there for a future day.


mjw532 said...

Cool story, I'd like to try this with you one of these days when we are in town. I've always wanted to try to paddle there but this sounds like more fun.

mjw532 said...

Cool story, I would like to try this one of these days when we are in town. I've always wanted to try to paddle there but this sounds like more fun.

Carol Whelan said...

Great story, John! What a great adventure! Thanks for sharing it.

Carol Whelan said...

Great story, John. Such an adventure!!! Carol Whelan

Steve Hyatt said...

I think it's still a great idea - glad the goal is still out there! Had an absolute blast sailing this Hobi at your demo days!