The Shearwater Shuffle

Would you believe that the sailboat is a very dance-friendly zone??

Look, in my entire life I’ve never claimed to be a good dancer, and on most occasions I am–either from blooming self-consciousness or total lack of technical ability–quite dreadful. What I can capture, on blessed other occasions is verve. This can take many names, naturally. In some environments it might express as a joie de vivire. In others it might be the manic violence of a mosh pit. On Shearwater it might best be observed as some version of jazzersize to keep the blood pumping.

Updates to my voyage have been paltry, I realize. I crossed to Pacific Mexico and began to explore those shores in a southerly direction. But I was underwhelmed; I wanted something different. Momo and I then went north along the Sinaloan coast. Spectacular. But in those travels we were more locked into (relatively) longer periods of being underway; we either starved or we feasted on passages between 24 and 27 hours. Not so much by some account, but well-enough for the Mo and plenty for me to visit the outer reaches of the finer points of what little acuity I can muster in this era of life.

As is well established on this blog, I do not sleep while underway. Nor am I, as a general description, someone who embraces a laissez-faire style of being. This can be in conflict with the sailboating lifestyle, because this activity is rife with opportunites to do exactly that. Like best-course-of-action type of opportunities. Sure, one needs to be ready for a variety of eventualities, but at a certain point there isn’t much else to do but just weather the storm, literal or otherwise. But I really only know how to approach my responsibilities–no matter the capacity, professional and otherwise–with an energetic, anxious vigilance. That’s equally true for my approach to managing a winery cellar, to being a restaurant waiter, to captaining a boat, to resolving a billing dispute with a telecomunications conglomerate. All of it. This is just a fundamental tenet to who I am.

So, under way, as I strive to let the world come to me while yet maintaining that signature level of nervous energy, I do a lot of singing and I do a lot of dancing. Sunset while sailing is a revered hour; I don’t allow myself further indulgences in near-term advance of sunset. No music, no caffination. My reckoning is that I probably shouldn’t be boating at all if it isn’t enough to simply soak in without disctraction the bittersweet beauty of the waning light, every hue imaginable tinged with the weight of knowing that nights are long and dark and on occasion, very difficult. This delayed gratification also means that once night has fallen and the rush from the new wave of sweet, sweet caffeine comes on, the tunes hit the ear with extra resonance. I challenge any mortal to not dance in such a situation.

For this, there is Alles Was Ich Mache Ist Kunst:

Sometimes it peters out after a song or two, sometimes it lasts well into the night. Always the long nights are punctuated with attempts–some feeble, some flourishing–to revive the wave of energy with a boogie or two. And sunrise? Well think about being punchdrunk, relieved to find a new day, and hopeful to be ever-nearer your destination. Oh yeah, you dance at sunrise.

Even back in these more forgiving climes of Baja, where if I’ve planned it right most voyages are an afternoon’s length, the dancing continues. It has a more mellow tenor, a celebration of good vibes rather than a ritualistic building of pressure in the steam engine. For this, the raising anchor and hoisting sails from one otherworldly harbor to another, there is Cumbion Dolido.

Paradoxically, one of the great joys of dancing alone while on a passage is that ephimeral quality to actions that no person will ever see. It is a celebration of the now, a yell into the great void with no thought that anything could echo back. Yet still, dancing out of a crowded anchorage has a delicious note of exhibitionism that should not be denied. And here on Shearwater, it rarely is.

2 thoughts on “The Shearwater Shuffle

  1. Being pulled into LaPaz by Neptune himself, loosened the reins of control. The freedom to move joyfully without restraint is a beautiful part of letting go. Congratulations on finding joy.


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