Practicing Zen

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Sat 22 Aug 2009 11:57
Noon Position: 49 02.5 N 004 00.4 W
Course: West sou' west Speed: 5 knots
Wind: South, light
Weather: Overcast clearing, mild
Day's run: 108 nm

The wonder is always new that any sane man can be a sailor.
R.W. Emerson (1803-82)

About 3 p.m. the wind started to ease which was good, reefs shaken out and
full sail up, the boat settled down and we were on course, on track making
good six to seven knots; but, typically, by 8 p.m. we had virtually no wind
and were left rolling around miserably in the not insignificant swell which
had built up over the previous couple of days. Initially I tried reducing
sail to prevent the slatting but have some sail up to reduce the roll, but
this didn't work, the swell was too big and the wind was too small. So I
reluctantly handed all sail and then went below to gather Bob Cat into the
bunk, where he slept as usual and I tried to assume a Zen like mental state,
becoming an impassive observer of the my situation, the rolling, hobby
horsing, and gyrating as it drifted; below things clattering and creaking,
my body wedged into the narrow bunk, lee cloth lashed up tight, as the
detached silent observer watched thoughts roll by such as, "When ( .if?.) I
get back to Adelaide I am going to get a job, move ashore and never set foot
on a boat again", and waited patiently for some wind; it could be five
minutes, it could be an eternity, it doesn't matter to us Zen masters - well
maybe if I keep practicing for a few more life times I might get the hang of
it, but it sure is eluding me in this one. Eventually I resorted to the
strategy of having just a bit of jib up, the wheel lashed to port, the idea
being any wind there was would blow us to the west, roughly the direction we
wanted to head in. Meanwhile with the help of the tidal stream we tracked a
seven mile by three mile ellipse on the chart five miles west of Guernsey

This morning at 12.50, from my bunk I could feel our motion stabilize, the
rolling had stopped and we were heeling ever so slightly to starboard, this
could mean only one thing - wind! I was up like a shot, so were the sails
and 10 minutes later we were close hauled on the port tack making good a
delightful five knots. Hooray! Not that us Zen masters are in any way
emotionally attached to our circumstances.

The wind has held overnight, the forecast is for it to freshen from the
southwest as another front rolls through, should be here sometime late
tomorrow, by which time we should have rounded Ile D'Oeussant, marking the
northwest corner of France and be heading across the Bay of Biscay towards
Spain. Not getting to see much of Europe I am afraid.

I have just realized I have been reporting longitude east instead of west
over the last couple of days, which will make my map look a little
confusing. I will fix this up when I next have internet access. Hopefully
we are somewhere nearer the mark today.

All is well.

Bob Cat:

Well last night sucked, what a life for an old cat. I take solace from that
great poet and fellow American, Walt Whitman:

I exist as I am, that is enough.
If no other in the world be aware I sit content,
And if each and all be aware I sit content.

One world is aware, and by far the largest to me, and that is myself.
And whether I come to my own today or in ten thousand or ten million years,
I can cheerfully take it now, or with equal cheerfulness, I can wait.

And that is enough to put anyone to sleep ... Zzzzzz.