Going with the Flow–Literally

by | Aug 10, 2023 | Venus & Mars Go Sailing | 5 comments

Visiting with a New Mexico friend before leaving the Land of Enchantment for parts north, and the sailing season on Kagán, she asked me how we decide where to go. The answer is that sometimes there are places we need to be on particular dates, and sometimes we have a general idea of a new place we’ve heard about or an old favorite we’d like to get back to, and then there are times we don’t have any agenda, except to go with the flow. Literally.

This summer, there were a few dates when we needed to be one place or another—like in Poulsbo for a friend’s daughter’s wedding or Bell Harbor in downtown Seattle to pick up other friends for a short cruise, and now, Port Townsend for a much needed haulout. But the rest of the season so far, we went with the flow. By checking tides and currents ahead of time, and planning for shorter trips, we could hoist our sails and ride the wind (and current), even if there was just a light breeze (which is often the case during the Salish Sea summers). Having a loose plan at bedtime, we might alter it over morning coffee if conditions differed from those forecast. Or we might be up at dawn to catch a favorable tide, and be rewarded with a stunning sunrise before casting off.

Sometimes going with the flow means going slow, like really slow—2 knots of speed through the water (which is sometimes what we get) translates to going 2.3 miles per hour. If we were to have a knot of current going in the same direction, at that water speed, we’d be moving at a whopping 3.5 miles per hour. Hence the planning for short distance days. But believe it or not, it’s fun! And relaxing. Wildlife, like the normally shy Harbor porpoises, come closer to Kagán since we’re gliding through the water so quietly. My first mate can take an afternoon nap in that same serene quiet, his snores from below louder than the sounds of sailing.

Other days, with more wind, we’ll get a brisker ride. Less relaxing, and more exciting. But no matter what, when the engine goes off, the magic begins. I have delighted in the magic of those days throughout this summer. Going with the wind and water, riding along with what nature provides rather than bucking it, is teaching me to live with less of an agenda and more patience.

As with so much of life aboard, there is a lesson about life in general, if I’m paying attention. If I could integrate more less-agenda/more-patience moments into my life, I might find another kind of magic—like savoring the satisfaction of a day well lived, even a mellow day. I tend to feel guilty about those—not embracing the value of restoring myself nearly as much as pushing myself to cross just one more thing off my overloaded ‘to do’ list.

I can imagine balancing life, like I’ve learned to balance Kagán with sail trim. Nancy Erley, my sailing mentor, taught me certain principles, then also encouraged me to experiment—pull a sail in or let it out a bit, to see what it gets Kagán in terms of speed or comfort. Sometimes both. It’s time for this sailor to experiment with going with the flow, both aboard and ashore. With that in mind—fair winds and following seas!

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  1. Scott Burns

    I love your writing! Have fun on the boat!
    Cheers, Scott

  2. Sharon Galkin

    Sailing vicariously through your beautiful descriptions and stunning photos.
    With love from your mostly landlocked cousin.

  3. Serin

    Sounds like a lovely way to spend the summer! Thanks for sharing, Deb 🙂

  4. Jenn B

    Here’s to no agendas! And living according to nature’s clock; telling time by the sun, the winds, our bodies, and the stars!


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