The #PowerofNature: #LakeSuperior (Part 2)

IMG_0128

Here is part two of an excerpt from Ocean of Insight, a book in the works. I’m crowd-sourcing the project and welcome your feedback. Thanks for your input–H

Lake Superior is kicking up. Bursts of wind push hard against the mainsail and cause us to tilt over and then bob vertical again. Each time I ease the sail away from the blow and turn the boat into the wind, spilling most of the force. I have my hands full managing gusts.

Dave sits near me in the cockpit eyeing the shore. The late afternoon sun illuminates sandstone bluffs with caves sculpted by eons of time. Dense forests of deep evergreen grace hilltops one-thousand feet above sea level. This National Park is properly tagged the “Caribbean of the North.” Twenty-one islands scatter like dice about two miles apart. This is one of the world’s best sailing grounds for both beginners and seasoned seamen.

Our boy, dressed in a life jacket and tethered to the boat, is asleep and drooling on the floor of the cockpit. His gun holster is loaded with toy cars. Our daughter is napping in the forward V-berth below decks, boots cast upon the floor boards. Everyone but me appears lulled by the rhythm of three-foot seas.

Without warning, the savage blow fills the fully elevated mainsail and this time it doesn’t quit. The boat tips far to the port side.

“Holy crap,” I blurt as I release the sail’s lines and turn the boat toward the wind. But an unwelcome twist in the rope keeps the sail from relaxing to the blow. The boat leans further askew. The starboard hull creeps molasses-slow out of the water to reveal the slippery skin here-to-for seen only by trout.

“Oh my God,” Dave blurts as he and I climb to the starboard edge in an attempt to make our body weight ballast to right the boat. The unbridled wind keeps coming. The incline increases.

“Ahhhh!” screams our son. He wakes on the vessel’s down side to a flood of icy water overflowing the port rail, sluicing his body. The dousing washes his light frame to the back of the cockpit. Only his tether keeps him on board.

Lifting my eyes I stare in horror, when the angle between the mast and the water closes to nothing, at the boat’s slow-motion fall to the water. The next wave spills over the entirety of the mast; the mainsail slips under a blanket of lake in a single gulp. Dave and I, ineffectual counterweights, lay our bodies as far as we dare across the exposed hull.

After a lengthy time, the brutal air current lets up. Water ebbs from the scoop of sailcloth and the mast breaches the surface. The weighty keel levers the boat to an upright position. With the knot released from the mainsail’s line, and bow finally pointed into the wind, the feral sail flaps wildly.

“Would you take over?” I ask Dave as I scoop our soggy, wailing son into my arms, unhook his tether, and bring him below for some comfort and a change of clothes. Our girl is undisturbed, but her body and boots are in a new position—tumbled to what was the boat’s low side.

To be continued…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *