I mentioned earlier that I wanted to learn to surf. I'm also interested in learning to sail, and I've been putting a lot more effort into that recently. The reason, I think, is that there are certain basic pleasures of the ancient world that one has to work very hard to come by today. We've cut ourselves off from things that even our grandfathers took for granted.
One of the pleasures of sailing is the ability to return to darkness. Sitting in a quiet cove, with the horizon marked by the scissored black cut-outs of pine or palm trees, is to know pure relaxation. The stars may be reflected, if you’re lucky, in the smooth water, or you might see the anchor lights of other boats moving in gentle arcs against the constellations.
One of the strangest experiences I’ve had at sea was being becalmed in the middle of the Pacific at night on a mirror-smooth sea. The stars, and even the moon, were so perfectly reflected that you couldn’t find the horizon, so it seemed as if our boat was a satellite in space, surrounded above, below and on all sides by stars.
Why I want to learn to sail...