A Sailor’s View | William Thomas Online | William Thomas

A Sailor’s View

Southbound in a hurry -Will Thomas photo


by William Thomas


Aboard a 31-foot trimaran a thousand miles from nearest land there are no distractions. The look and feel of each overtaking wave, the portents scrawled across the sky, the wind-sculpted set of the sails, and above all the constant yet ever-changing messaging and motion of a small outrigged boat alive to a seaway are all the news I need to know.

A week ago, soon after taking departure bearings, we sank the land astern. When it disappeared completely beyond the rim of this watery world, it was as if an entire continent had never existed.

Perhaps it had all been a dream. Because out here, onboard a boat whose only radio is a weather receiver, land is an impossibility. Every drama and concern that compelled my attention ashore has been swallowed by a bluewater wilderness stretching away on every hand.

And by a captain’s unrelenting responsibility for my trusting mate’s life and the safety of the vessel we finished building in a Gabriola clearing together.

Now, every fibre of my being is absorbed in keeping Celerity on her feet and on course for mythical Hiva Oa Island, a seven-mile speck in the ocean’s blue immensity. One-thousand miles run. Another eighteen-hundred to go…

Perform this seagoing yoga for eight years and 40,000 sea-miles and you will discover how the world ocean does not separate but links us all. From Victoria to the fabled South Seas, all the way to China and Japan and home across the top were the equivalent of back-to-back voyages around the world at the equator.

When I finally did come ashore – and was nearly run down by a logging truck on Salt Spring Island – I brought  a very different perspective than most of Earth’s human inhabitants, who know only usually-solid land.

Today, blessed by a heart attack and an unexpected 70th  birthday, my need for open water remains as vital as my requirement for breath.

What has deepened is my abiding distrust of landlubbers. For I share the sailor's long-held suspicion of landspeople screwing things up while looking the other way. Sea level rise. Climate Shift. Mass Extinction. Nuclear war. No one seems to care. Even when harbingers hit with distressing regularity, habit and denial rule.

For now.

Coming from a long and intimate acquaintance with elemental forces without possibility of rescue or parole, I’d have to say to the city slickers: You’re all nuts. Mad as hatters. Crazy as loons. Reckless with your grandchildren. And determinably suicidal.

Judging by your actions.

And inaction.

A week out of Bora Bora, with our world reduced to a pitching deck and the lurching cabin below, no one onboard ignores the black roll clouds massing on the weather horizon.

Without speaking, Thea and I double-reef the mainsail. The mate drops below to secure the cabin and boil water for the airpot, while I make my way forward, checking the dinghy and sail lashings.

What we do not do is pop a drug, chug a drink, turn in, or turn on a screen and pretend peril is not fast coming our way.  


 发件人     William Thomas 2019