I watched from the shore as our blue sailboat became smaller and smaller, moving slowly with the wind. When I could no longer see the people onboard I turned away, started the car, and began my journey home. But oh, how fast the car was going! I felt like my brain just couldn’t adjust to the speed. Things were happening way too fast, I could hardly see where I was driving – I couldn’t read the road signs, I couldn’t focus on anything in that whizzing landscape. Yet, after I while I noticed there were several cars behind me with a frustrated driver in each one, apparently wondering why someone was driving so slowly.
Four weeks of travelling slowly is enough to turn you into a different being. While many people claim that flying is actually a type of time travel, and travelling by car or train is more in proportion with the human scale, sailing is yet another category. On a small boat like ours, you hardly ever exceed the speed of leisurely jogging – and when you do, it feels really fast! Sailing is a unique way of travelling in many other ways, too. You can walk, or jog, or bike only a certain distance before you get tired, or your muscles start to hurt, or you get blisters or abrasions. You can drive a long way in a car but eventually it makes you stiff and numb. Or hungry, at the very least. But you never get tired of sailing. You never get bored with the different islands, rocks, waves, clouds, however slowly you move past them – because the landscape changes the whole time, at a pace where you have time to see the details. You don’t get bored or stiff, because there’s always a sail to be adjusted or a route to be checked on the chart. And while you do get hungry often – there’s something about the salty air that does it, I’m sure – you can cook and eat as you move along.
Our summer holiday started a month ago. As soon as the boat was ready enough to sail away, we untied the lines. There was no upholstery, no matching cushions and curtains, and the toilet hoses were in plain view, but we didn’t care. The engine worked, the sails were in great shape, we had food in the fridge and water in the tank. The first week we pushed westward. We had seen all of the places before and it felt more like a delivery trip than a real holiday. And the weather was depressing – it was colder than an average May, cloudy and gloomy, and whenever the sun came out for a while, there was no warmth in it. Finally, we got to the town of Hanko, at the southern tip of Finland, where we stopped for a day of shopping while there was a great Regatta going on. Instead of suntan lotion we bought woolly hats, foul weather gear and longjohns. Yes, woolly hats in July!
Click the previews to see bigger pictures and captions.
From here on, we were able to raise the sails every morning, and sail to a place we had not visited before. That’s what I think travelling is all about. Yet, every day we met people who had visited the same places, the same islands, anchorages and marinas a hundred times before. Some had sailed the same circle every summer for the past twenty years. But that’s also one of the great things about sailing: there are so many different ways of doing it. For some it’s going back, year after year, to the same favourite places, meeting the same people. For some it’s racing in the exciting regattas. For us it’s sailing towards the horizon, always wondering what lies beyond.the next post!