sailing on saturday

I woke up with a headache which meant one of two things, either 1) too much wine the night before or 2) anxiety was setting in. I tried the coax the anxiety away and thought I was successful, but the headache would reappear on the front left side of my head above my eye every few minutes. K. prompted me to take Advil. I did what she said. The placebo effect kicked in and dulled the pain. We readied for a day of sailing, watching the windows for any sign of the storms that were due that day. We packed a backpack with books and music and jackets and put our sunglasses on.

The drive to the Chesapeake Bay marina took 45 minutes. My headache was kicking back in. We stopped at a grocery shore for lunch and snacks. I got seltzer hoping to settle the now unsettled stomach that was turning over and over. I’d been sailing before. I was once a lifeguard. I had no idea what the anxiety was about other than the unknown.

We walked down the pier-passing sailboat after sailboat, some small, some huge. The sailboat we boarded had two sleeping cabins, a bathroom, and a living room. Shelves folded down and seats could be rearranged for more sleeping. Everything was precise with calculations in this small space and yet everything seemed comfortable and perfectly sized.

Inside the cabin, the queasiness intensified. The slight moments of the boat and the inability to see the surroundings sent my mind into repetitive thoughts: “You will not throw up. You will not throw up. You will not throw up.” K. and I split a sandwich. I ate quickly hoping that the food and seltzer would ease the feelings of losing control and fainting.

On deck, the sun was shining and the visuals stopped the queasiness, but the headache remained. We motored out of the dock, the sails still wrapped around their poles. The Bay was filled with sailboats. There must have been hundreds of white-bloomed sails that day. It was gorgeous and cluttered. We sailed beyond the markers, through the cluttered portion and into the wide-open waters of the Bay passing buoys for crab pots to where the bridge gleaned in the distance and barges and tankers crossed paths.

We gabbed and talked, the girls giggling out of earshot of the boys to which they would boom, “What are you laughing at?” “Don’t worry,” I replied, “we’re laughing at you, not with you.” The wind was wild and strong and billowed the sails to 7 knots. We sailed for a good hour then turned around. On the way back we had a clear straight line to home, to the marina. I spied a gargantuan ship to our left. It was huge in the distance and seemed to be fading away. I sat on a perch that I deemed a place I could live and watched the big ships. I turned to J. who was steering and said, “That’s a big one there,” and pointed to the boat on the left. He agreed that it was big and that we wouldn’t want to mess with that one. I then asked, “Is it heading toward us?” J. stood up at the wheel and sprung into the action. The boat was heading our way and we were on a collision course. We had to tack and turn around and do it quickly. I wasn’t nervous until the owner of the boat, J.’s father, warned him to keep the wind in the sails and not be dead in the water. He wanted us to get as far away from the monster as possible. My headache and stomach paused themselves. The fear and survival mode kicked in. We turned and cleared the path quickly; mouths open as the vessel crossed the path in which our boat had been heading. The size was almost unfathomable. It seemed like 2 cruise ships stacked on top of each other, but there were no windows, just huge walled sides. We would have been a fly smashed against the windshield if we hadn’t turned around. The boat would never have noticed us.

Back on the dock my headache began to dissipate. The unknown was now known and a crab dinner was on the agenda. I love sailing. And if you were driving on the Chesapeake Bay bridge on Saturday afternoon and looked down into the water at the sailboats below and were filled with a bit of envy. Well, then, you were looking at me.

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