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Navigating the Seas of Revery 1

Grebes paddle across the bows as Phyllis, my Sabb, two cylinder diesel engine, provides the steady pace. Old Hand steams into the channel, giving the south shore sands of Eagle Harbor a wide berth. Once past the red nun marking the southern extent of Tyee shoal, I head up into the wind and raise jib and staysail before falling off on a port tack, close-hauled into a twelve knot northerly breeze.
Something in us is endlessly departing into the rarefied air of spiritual quest,  forever receding into mythic seas on courses, set in youth, upon imaginal meridians.
“Ready to come about, Mister Spencer, and try to keep us off the beach at Yeomalt point.”
“Ready about.”
I have a habit of addressing myself like this when alone at sea. But sometimes, in my inner dialogue between captain and first mate, there are mutinies which needs be put down with a firm hand.
Call him/me, Captain McWhirr.
Turning to port, I reach through the wheel house door to let go the the starboard jib sheet and secure the flogging jib.  We settle on a starboard tack with Yeomalt point looming off the bow.
“Steady up.”
“Steady it is, Captain.”
Every casting off, no matter how modest the voyage, holds the promise of high adventure.
Grand embarkations, like Watteau’s Voyage to Cytheria, show frolicsome gentry waltzing down to a moored lugger awaiting passage to Aphrodite’s fair isle.
Epic Adieus call through the ages. There’s Agamemnon’s dramatic farewell and blood kin offered to the gods for a fair breeze toward the final act on Windy Troy. Oaths hurled into the wind’s teeth bring down the curtain. Soliloquies are delivered in drawn out scenes at the taffrail, and swords are brandished against a blood red sky.
“Prepare to come about. We’ll never make our offing at Yeomalt Point if you don’t stop dreaming and skip lively, mate.” McWhirr is testy this morning.
“Ready about it is, sir.”
Under her gracefully curving genoa, the brilliant white hull of a classic yawl glides over green water dappled with cobalt blue refltions of sky as she runs before the freshening breeze back toward Tyee Light.
Now we point toward the shipping lanes and Magnolia Bluffs beyond, to gain Easting before the long board past Skiff point, but the wind is backing to northward and we may not make it with out Phyllis’ assistance.
The wind continues to freshen, and after another tack, Old Hand is pounding into seas made steep by the wild contention of wind and tide.  McWhirr is  hell bent on making our offing clear of the rapidly drying shingle on Skiff Point. Through the port shrouds, gulls and herons gather on the mudflats of Murden Cove, only now showing with the fast ebbing tide.

Why must we hurl ourselves into the spume at Neptune’s mercy, when we might be placidly lounging, beer in hand, before the latest remake of the same old sea story, far from the remotest chance of drowning? There’s something that calls like the siren’s lydian melodies from behind this storm, to set brave hearts through Gabriel’s northern gate toward phantom landfalls in the dream time.


I am an artist, writer and sailor in the Pacific Northwest.

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