Slowly Unfurling #SOL2022

Good morning. How are you? Have you expanded easily into summer?

Slowly unfurling.

My father built his first sailboat in the garage of our bungalow in Toronto. We lived on a cul de sac, which sounds much better than “dead end street” which we used to say as children. It was a dingy, a single-sailed boat with a mast called a Penguin. He bought the blueprint designs, the wood and tools and constructed every part by hand, except the sail. He hand crafted the wooden hull secure against the water and waves, but purchased the triangular cloth, the sail with a symbol and a number, almost like a license plate but for boats, ready to catch the wind.

For three summers, he learned to steer the vessel, catching wind, navigating the waters of Georgian Bay. But, this wasn’t enough. One sail couldn’t harness much wind and he would fall behind other boats racing across the choppy blue-green waves. So, he bought another blueprint and built another boat with a mainsail and a jib – a Fireball – first conceived in 1962.

I remember skipping, double-dutch, in the driveway, peeking over at the sleek cedar hull, sanded and varnished, feeling admiration and pride. Neighbours came to watch the process unfolding, seeing the nearly five foot expanse jutting out of the too-small garage. It was summer and he had been preparing in the basement all winter.

That boat would speedily slide across the choppy waters and even with my mandatory life preserver, I was scared with every outing. I sat tense near the centre mast at the front of the boar. We would tack across the bay from Beaver Dams beach to Blueberry Island where we would fill a bucket with wild blueberries. Other than the odd pine growing out of the rocky mossy surface, blueberry bushes covered the tiny island. I’d sail for blueberries, knowing we had a destination, but fear would grip me every time.

Each tack sent me under the boom to the other side of the boat and my father would coax me to “handle the jib” barking commands to bring in the sail to catch the wind. I’d pull and watch the two white pieces of fabric flutter with each turn imagining they would never open again – we’d be stranded. Yet, each time, with a few turns of the rudder, and attention to nature, they would unfurl and open again to the wind.

5 thoughts on “Slowly Unfurling #SOL2022

  1. And your memories brought back my memories. We had a small O’Day Day Sailer that we sailed off the coast of Maine, where my parents grew up. I remember my dad calling out, “READY ABOUT!,” but you know I got whacked in the head by the boom on more than one occasion. It took a few times to get savvy, LOL!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is delightful! Blueberry island and a bucket full of berries – “I’d sail for blueberries!” Oh, this is summer at its finest hour – island, sailboat, blueberries. It’s delicious and I can feel the sea breeze in my hair.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Like Kim, I found the line, “I’d sail for blueberries” incredibly evocative. Your description of the care you father took with the boat, the way the boat moved across the water & the fear that gripped you every time immersed me in the story. Here’s to that little girl, afraid of being stranded, learning again and again that the wind will, in fact, fill the sails.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re amazing. That you take time on vacation to read and comment is a testament to your commitment to this writing community. I so very much appreciate your feedback as a masterful writer. 🙏

      Liked by 1 person

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