Sailing in Metaphors

Published on September 7th, 2021

by Sheila McCurdy, WindCheck magazine
If you are reading this, sailing has had or will have a profound influence on your life in some way. There is, of course, the physical aspect of sailing—that of making a complex vessel advance through water, harnessing invisible forces.

There is the communal aspect of living and working with others in a confined space for extended periods. There is the practical aspect of planning, preparing, and then responding to a raft of eventualities. We study. We learn. We listen. We screw up and learn again. We find joy in the places we go. We grieve injury and loss. We doubt and overcome. We remember what we have heard or seen on the water when any number of situations arise on land, and are likely to say, “It is just like being on a boat.” Sailing is a metaphor for everything.

There are writers and poets who can conjure language to say what we feel. I offer this sampling that crystalizes some of the feelings for the sea that we have in common.

Marcel Proust was very good at writing long, involved works, but in this quote from Remembrance of Things Past, he seems to sum up why some of us return to passage-making again and again:

Sail GP

“The only true voyage of discovery, the only fountain of Eternal Youth, would be not to visit strange lands but to possess other eyes, to behold the universe through the eyes of another, of a hundred others, to behold the hundred universes that each of them beholds, that each of them is…”

Jerome K. Jerome wrote Three Men in a Boat. It is a lovely yarn about sharing time with chosen friends. I aspire to his list of essentials:

“Throw the lumber over, man! Let your boat of life be light, packed with only what you need—a homely home and simple pleasures, one or two friends worthy of name, someone to love and someone to love you, a cat, a dog, and…enough to eat and enough to wear, and a little more than enough to drink; for thirst is a dangerous thing.”Full report

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