Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Father's Day

It was a beautiful sailing day Sunday, despite inner waters jammed with dads and their boats. A few miles offshore the breeze was averaging six knots out of the south-southeast and this ketch and I were having great times.

See the fisherman's staysail flying so gracefully between his main and mizzen masts. Click the picture to enlarge it.

It took some effort to set that sail. I saw that someone had to climb the lower portion of the mizzen on this pilot house ketch, probably about a 60-footer. The fisherman's tack apparently was the culprit. But after it was fixed, it flew perfectly and the self-tending sail tacked and gybed itself as the ketch changed course.

I was sailing alone, but my children were with me in my thoughts and in my heart. Daughter Katie is in British Columbia teaching a class at Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre. And son Randy, his partner and my grandson were in Pittsburgh at the wedding of a close friend.

I'm a lucky father. My children are successful, happy, and doing things to make the world a little better for their presence here. It was easy being their father, mostly anyway. They were always self-directed and full of ideas. I tried to nurture that rather than ridicule. By the time they were in their early teens I realized they really were smarter than me and accepted it. I tried to let them be responsible for their own goals and achievements.

Take another look at that ketch above. It's sails are set perfectly and it is on a course to windward. Windward is somewhere to its starboard bow and it won't ever get there on its present course. It'll have to tack and follow a zig-zag course if the skipper really wants to get somewhere to windward.

It isn't really possible for me on my boat to know where that skipper is headed. All I can know is that he or she is doing it very well at the moment. That progress could be ruined, however.

What if I could command that skipper to turn more to the right, to point closer to the direction I think the boat should be headed. Parents can do that to their children and the result might be that the child ends up in irons, not really going anywhere, accompanied by a lot of flailing and commotion.

That's never a pretty sight on the water. Nor in life.

No comments: