In the grand scheme of things, it really wasn’t a big deal. And the more i think about it, it should not have been such a big deal to me either,.
But it was. Meant the world to me. Still won’t be able to express my feelings adequately here.
Last week, Steve and Maria Frailey invited Maureen and me to join them on their sailboat Saturday. With both of us having our second round of COVID vaccinations, we quickly accepted.
We arrived at the Southwestern Yacht Club in Point Loma almost exactly (now that’s oxymoronic but makes sense to me) at noon. We found the new berth, boarded their new boat, the Piccolina, and shortly afterward maneuvered out of the yacht basin. Steve offered me the chance to take the helm. i readily accepted.
Now, i have sailed a bit and know some basics. i crewed quite a bit with my buddy J.D. Waits in the early 80’s, but JD knew how to sail, and i learned from him. i was an apprentice. i have also sailed a few times with Alan Hicks and, of course, Steve.
On all of those occasions where i had the helm, i found myself, hesitant, a bit unsure. It was like my first several years conning Navy ships. Not confident enough to feel comfortable. This was a good thing during my time as a junior officer in that i was extremely conservative and would consult the captain when i was unsure of the situation. It served me well. Then, when i reported aboard the USS Luce (DLG-7) in 1972, somewhere in the middle of that Mediterranean deployment, i became a. good ship handler, not just a safe one.
We sailed out of San Diego Bay past Point Loma: the open sea. The winds had been predicted to be about ten knots. But past the point, they ranged from 15 to 20 and gusted to about 22. As a result, the seas were a bit rough and confused.
We passed the sea buoy and sailed about three miles before turning around. It was really a bit too rough to be enjoyable for everyone. Maureen was a bit queasy, but being a trouper, she sat in the catbird seat, looked at the horizon, and fared well.
Steve took the helm for the sail back in, but when we entered the channel, he gave me the helm once again. i sailed down into the bay, around North Island and to the the port’s marina adjacent to the Coast Guard station where Steve took over to maneuver through the marina and along the San Diego city shoreline to the Navy museum USS Midway.
Considering the time, Steve announced we should go to power to get back to the yacht club at a decent time. Once again, i had the helm. i kept it until we arrived back at the basin where Steve took us into the berth.
It was an incredibly beautiful sail. In decent weather, sailing around in the Southwest corner, it alway is. It was exhilarating to be with old friends once again.
But somewhere in the beginning of my taking the helm, i got that confidence back. Of course, i had one of the best mariners i’ve ever met to rely on. But i knew i could do it and even instinctively realized what he was doing with the sails and why.
There was this feeling of connecting with the sea, that beautiful, awesome, and sometimes frightening lady that i have loved for a great portion of my life.
Oh, i’m far from being a good sailor of a sailboat. Perhaps the feelings i had were just a connection to a memory of my days at sea.
Doesn’t matter. i felt like i haven’t felt in a long time. i was a mariner, a sea dog, and Saturday, i felt like i was again.
Thank you, Steve and Maria. It was a good feeling this old man got to revisit. Worth more than i can ever adequately express.