Wind is the core element to sailing. And there is a lot more to the wind than potentially ruining a carefully coiffed hairdo. It occurs to me that sailing has many parallels to life, so the fact that the difference between true and apparent wind is of vital importance when sailing should have been obvious from the outset. True wind is the wind you feel when you are standing on the dock. It’s the wind that blows across the land or water and the one we hear about in weather forecasts, for example, 10 knots. Apparent wind is the wind that is generated by our movement in combination with the true wind. The only time there is no apparent wind is when we are at rest and allowing the effects of the true wind to play around us. As soon as we move, the wind we feel is apparent.
I am fairly sure I don’t need to spell out what this made me think of. But you know I’m going to. In our quiet, still moments, we are our true selves. If you are into meditation, I guess allowing the stillness of our true selves to just be could be the idea behind meditation. As soon as we start moving, whether it’s amongst the people, or alone, we are filled with the distractions and influences we pass and even by the sensation of our own propulsion. And we need both winds. For different reasons.
Apparently every sailor has a different ideal for wind range. 7 to 15 knots seems to be a general favourite. Whatever the speed of the wind, you need wind in your sails to move forward. And a ruffian wind, or strong and playful wind, if respected and harnessed and coming from the side rather than rushing up behind you or pushing against you, well, that’s the key.
A ruffian wind is bliss.
And the bottom of a boat needs to be cleaned once a season so the passage is smooth.
A boat can lose 20-30 % efficiency if its keel is not cleaned regularly. Barnacles may be small, but a collection of them on the underside of a boat will slow you down. Barnacles need the current to bring them food because of their lack of fins and flippers to get them round. They use their ‘heads’ to attach to a firm surface, like a rock, sea wall, dock or boat, then build plates around their body for protection. They are stubborn in their need for nutrients. And tenacious. You can’t blame them for that. But you can’t let them stay. Particularly if you want to get out on the ocean and go places.
Ridding ourselves of those small, insidious things that we become attached to should be a seasonal endeavour. You may need to pry them loose with a plastic putty knife or scrub them away with a stainless steel scrubber. You may even need to apply a fresh coat of paint. These measures take time, but if you can move forward with a ruffian wind in your hair and a clear view of the horizon, that’s what it’s all about.
Our passions are the winds that propel our vessel. Our reason is the pilot that steers her. Without winds the vessel would not move and without a pilot she would be lost.