Blanketing opinions that I'll probably regret soon.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

On Lakes vs. Seas, Freshwater vs. Saltwater

Spending time on the best lakes the world has to offer got me thinking about the differences between sailing on inland freshwater versus saltwater bays or oceans.

The distinction is the sailor's underlying consciousness of nature's visible boundary or its abyss past curved horizons.

Granted, one can as easily drown from capsizing on a lake as the Chesapeake, but when sailing on a body of saltwater there's always the knowledge that theoretically --- theoretically --- you could decide to keep on sailing and never return, forgetting your land-bound life for good.

Like Jim Gray, perhaps.

The Microsoft researcher told his wife he was sailing out of San Fran to scatter his mother's ashes onto a wildlife refuge but he never returned and extensive searches have turned up nothing. Maybe his boat hit a submerged object and sank? Maybe he fell overboard while taking a piss? Or maybe he was struck by an epiphany in a moment of whimsy that cut to his bones, changed course due west, and is now living under a different identity on a south Pacific island permanently high on kava and eating species of fish not yet classified by science.

Gray's final contact with the land lubber's world was an upbeat voicemail to his daughter which said, "I'm taking Granny out to her final resting place. I'm surrounded by dolphins out here. It's a little cloudy but very pleasant. No whales but lots of dolphins and very pretty. Love and kisses, take care, bye." That was on January 28, 2007.

When boating on a lake or river you are still squarely within the world of the land lubber --- the thought doesn't leave your mind. Safety is always within reach and there's no possibility of being overwhelmed by the beauty of it all and just leaving without a trace.

And freshwater just smells safe. There's very little stink with lakes and rivers --- that beautiful marine stench which reminds you that the sea has BALLS. The smell of the ocean's sweaty crotch lets you know that you're separate from working technological society --- the place where millions sit in cubicles, tapping at keyboards, staring at screens, day in, day out. Salt and sea are far removed from that manmade reality, and despite the serenity you may feel in light winds and flat seas, you know that nature's raw indifference could drop onto your head with all its gravity and pain.

Don't get me wrong, I'll sail on any body of water even in vessels that are less than 50% seaworthy with crews that should be in AA meetings rather than the cockpit of a boat, but something about the Chesapeake and its connection to endless ocean makes me glad I sail so close to the Atlantic.
Too Funny. I was just going to leave you a comment about Jim Gray and then saw this.
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