Kontentu’s First Trip Around the Sun
It’s been nearly a year since I took ownership of Kontentu down on the docks of Kralendijk last December. She was shiny and new, fresh out from a Florida boat yard, and just off the decks of the Don Andres, our local freighter. Since that time, I have sailed more than all the prior sails of my lifetime. I am well into the three-digits and counting, that in less than a year. I have benefited from a confluence of place, time, desire and boat. Kontentu lays on a mooring in the Caribbean Sea, just a thirty-second swim from my door. It is hard to say ‘no’ to just one more sail when I look out at the boat bobbing on the line, beckoning me from my home.
So I go. I sail. Repeatedly. Bonarians ask me often why I don’t fish while I sail, as if the act of sailing wasn’t enough. Others here, who repeatedly see me cruising the bay, inquire what the constant attraction is. That’s a fair question. I will try to explain.
For me, it is a multi-perceptual experience. The sounds overwhelm. Water slaps against hull as the boat surges forward. Wind whistles through the rigging during a sudden puff. The brilliant sea gurgles past the stern on a downwind blow. In the last month I bought an i-Pod Shuffle, a device the size of my pinkie that can hold 800 songs or more. At times when I solo sail, I don the earphones and play tunes that resonate with my soul. It is an added-value experience. But I soon find myself longing to return to the simple sounds of the moment-a splash of a pelican hitting the water nearby, the break of the waves over the coral shores of Klein Bonaire, the blast of a massive cruise ship’s horn departing for the next port of paradise. I soon stash the music and just enjoy the melody of the journey.
And there are sights- dazzling, dreamsicle green water as I glide over the shallows near the dive site of Alice In Wonderland; a sea gull hovering just above my mast, checking to see if I took the advice of my Bonarian friends and actually went fishing this time; a pod of dolphins racing off the bow in playful pursuit on my imaginary tack line.
Then there are inner visions that play inside my head. Sometimes, they are out-of-body views from above. I see myself below in my small boat surrounded by a vast sea of indigo blue. I am the only craft on the water and it’s a Tuesday. Other times I think about stateside friends still toiling away in a quest to fatten the 401-K. Occasionally, I ponder the times I braved the dense DC weekend traffic on US-50 to Annapolis and then the congested Chesapeake Bay Bridge just to get to Tera Starr, a sleek Hunter 28.5 sloop. Then, out on the water, only to face more traffic—obnoxious speed boats spewing fumes and nasty wakes; rude Wave Runners piloted by beer-guzzling Twenty Somethings who buzz way too close and at dangerous speeds; ominous hulks of ocean-going freighters and Navy warships that close vast distances in alarmingly small amounts of time. But the underlying stress of East Coast living is quickly becoming a dim memory.
It’s all good now. I’m back to the aerial, out-of-body vision of me in real time. I’m sailing the pristine Caribbean and I’m on a fast reach. It’s a full-sail day in constant 14-knot trade winds. I hike out over the combing as Kontentu leans determinedly into the breeze. This is what I do these days, again and again and again. It’s a tropical motion mantra, a nautical play back on perpetual rewind, a sea-going amusement ride and I’ve got endless tickets. Sail on? Why not?