waves in the dark

I lay alone in this embracing bed, listening to the steady, relentless pacing of the waves. They come no matter what. Lake Michigan, deep and dark, mysterious and intimate, speaks to me beyond the safety of my gable room. In the dark, I get up to stand at the window. I can see the night-lit waves, the white of the rollers driving, completely unstoppable,  to the shore, pushed by a not-taking-no-for-an-answer wind.

The winter cold, the wind, the night. It changes nothing. You just navigate it.

I feel my hand on the helm, my body both tired and alert, cold all through. Almost frightened, but comfortable just the same, trusting in the dark – my compass, the sails, the rudder, the charts, my self. The boat just goes. I feel the cold wind on my face. I ache. I scan the dark, all I see and feel is the rolling of those waves. My eye watches the fill of the sail, the cockpit lifts me up, we slide and skid along as the night black water presses us up, up and then dishes us out for just a moment before the next push. The water hisses.

We are all alone here, me and the low light of the compass, in this vast, mysterious plane of constant motion. I have what I need. I am alive.


whales, waterspouts, wind

chart with course and fixes marked on it
from the log, down in Lake Erie
from the log, off the coast of Nova Scotia north of Owl’s Head

So with all this sorting and packing, I am discovering all sorts of little treasures, lost memories, happy mementos. Yesterday, I chanced upon the only remaining pages of the log I kept many, many years ago when I set out on a long sailing journey, double-handing a wooden yawl. It made me happy to see it.



For some reason, all that remains are some copied pages of the log, spanning about three months of time. The log picks up at Harbor Island heading into the North Channel at the top of Lake Huron and covers the trip to Owl’s Head Bay on the Atlantic coast of  Nova Scotia, via the St. Lawrence Seaway. The rest of the log, and the originals, are gone.

The rest of the log covered the rest of the trip, from Owl’s Head Bay all the way down the Atlantic coast to the Bahamas, then sojourning there for a few months before returning up the coast to the Hudson River and the Erie Canal. Those pages are forever gone, deliberately burnt in a fire long ago. Wish I had them now, though, because the incredible memories are getting fuzzy.

pen & ink I made of one of the views while sitting in harbor
pen & ink I made of one of the views while sitting in harbor


Anyway….. Fun to find these pages. I can see as I leaf through them how I grew comfortable with the cruising life, and how I enjoyed every damned day no matter the weather or the difficulties. Whales, waterspouts, wind, tides, locks, storms, mountains, fog, freighters, submerged rocks, cities, isolation, birds, people – it’s all there.

I was very alive, very aware. The whole point was the journey. It still is.