Leilani was blessed on Sunday. For over 20 years, I took photographs from the deck of the Montauk-based cutter Ridley, and the Point Wells before it, as the harbor’s fleet of fishing boats, yachts, sailboats, and a kayak or two, many of them well supplied with water balloons, paraded by during the annual blessing.
Sunday was the first time a vessel of my own, a Bristol sloop purchased over the winter, received the protection of the good Lord via four distinguished prelates who stood robed and making the appropriate gestures, this year from the deck of the party boat Marlin VI Princess.
It felt good, although not every mariner believes in the blessing. Quite the contrary. I remember Capt. Dave Krusa putting extra lines on his boats to keep them fast to the dock during the blessing.
And, speaking of lines; those made fast, paid out, coiled, spliced, laid up, and written, I confess my love of sailing has a lot to do with my fascination with rope. It was among humankind’s earliest inventions. It is as close to an extension of our own muscle and sinew as one can find. Sailboats have a lot of it to to haul, coil, and cleat, and to be wary of. Rope can turn on you if you’re not careful.
Which leads me to shamelessly plug the book I have just finished writing titled “A Rogue’s Yarn.” The title refers to the one length of twisted yarn that is dyed an identifying color before being twisted together with many other yarns to form the finished rope. Originally, it was meant to show prospective buyers that the rope was the real deal, not made of inferior or recycled fiber.
My book is a yarn spun by one particular rogue, a homeless surfer with a dark obsession who dwells undetected in the basement of Waikiki’s Royal Hawaiian Hotel. He believes plants are conspiring to reclaim the Garden of Eden and he becomes a guru of sorts to the homeless who live in Kapiolani Park. Meanwhile young women continue to disappear mysteriously from the tourist capital of the world.
“Rogue” will be launched as an e-book within the next couple of weeks with cover art designed by Dalton Portella.
So, after being blessed Leilani motored out the inlet, set sail, and turned west toward Gardiner’s Island, her sails filled by a 15-knot breeze from the south. Then came that moment we sail for, when the boat’s two-cylinder drumming ceased, replaced by a peaceful exhalation, a powerful silence.
It’s not the destination, it’s the journey, or some such old saw that defines the difference between motoring and sailing for me. I’m a recreational sailor with the luxury of not needing to get any particular place at any set time. But I like the idea of being able to navigate using what nature provided sailors prior to the invention of the iron wind. Sailors must be forehanded, that is, able to plan ahead using nature’s variables, a mental exercise one can never master, nor tire of attempting to.
Timing a tack, for instance. Put an extra wrap onto the winch, turn the wheel hard-a-lee. Wait for the luff of the sail to say when, then sheet it home. A new boat, a new book, a new direction, and coils of spun yarns.
Russell Drumm is a senior writer at The Star.