Harken Derm

A sailing story in five chapters

Published on March 5th, 2019

by Nick Hayes, SAILING magazine
Sailors usually have more stories than their nonsailing friends have the patience to hear. Surround a sailor with sailing friends and liquid refreshments and colorful and unforgettable tales will flow unabated. Here is one told by a favorite salt, re-written as close to word-for-word as allowable by proper publishing norms:

“The heavyset skipper went below in rough weather, stripped his top layers and pin-balled into the head and closed the door. Minutes later, on a big wave, the door crashed open as he was ejected ass over teakettle and landed upside down in a port-side wet locker; bibs around his ankles and holding the unfurled roll of TP on a thumb. The driver reported witnessing a large naked man flying across the cabin with a comet’s tail of double-ply and shouting expletives. The skipper wasn’t hurt, but the foredeck crew who didn’t divert their eyes while pulling him out by his boots still suffer PTSD.”

We could retell (and embellish or tone-down) outlandish sailing events endlessly. Instead, let’s broaden our focus to the story of a lifetime of sailing, by breaking that lifetime into five chapters. One or more may feel familiar to you.

The Chapters of a Sailing Lifetime:
1. Seat of the Pants
2. Art and Science
3. The Campaign
4. Stretching Limits
5. Paying it Forward

A sailing life can start very young and end with old age, or start in middle age and end, again, with old age. No matter when it starts, a person who identifies as a lifelong sailor transitions through similar chapters, in roughly the same order. – Full story

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