I love to sail. It started when I was 12 and went sailing with my counsellor at camp. I was hooked. I loved the wind, the waves, the complexity of the rigging, the sparkling water from a summer sun shimmering on foaming white caps. Since then, I have spent a lot of time sailing on my own Hobie 16 and also on Pacific Grace and Swift from SALTS in Victoria with the grad classes from my previous school. It is always an adventure.
Several years ago on the last day of our summer vacation, I talked my brother-in-law Mike into sailing the entire lake with me in the late afternoon. I had never done this before. It was a great wind, but although we could sail the 14 km downwind quite quickly, we’d have to sail all the way home into the wind. It was sunny and warm and we made it to the end of the lake in less than an hour. About a third of the way home I could see dark clouds headed our way and the wind picked up. In less than 10 minutes we were in a bigger wind than I’d ever sailed before. About 5 minutes later it was like a hurricane.
Mike yelled, “Turn into the wind and we’ll lower the sails!”
But I didn’t listen to him, and turned downwind instead, hoping to run the easy way around a little outcropping into the shelter of a cove. Downwind, we lasted about 9 seconds and it was quite a ride! We were likely travelling about 40 km/h and at the top of every wave the rudders came right out of the water and we had no control. We came down one particularly steep wave and both pontoons went straight into the water and the boat did a face plant. We went from 40 km/h to 0 in a second. We both flew off the boat into the water, past the tip of the mast, 26 feet.
The wind blew us to the shore and I lost my jib sail and broke a bunch of rigging and we sailed home in the dark that night. It was a humbling adventure. But I’ll always remember my decision to turn the easy way and go downwind instead of listening to Mike’s advice and turning upwind to lower my sails. Life is like that. We often find ourselves going the easy way when we know the best way is usually the opposite. We don’t exercise when we would feel way better if we did. We don’t go to bed early when we know we would feel way better in the morning if we did. We don’t read our Bible and pray every day when we know we would live much closer to God if we did. So now whenever I face two choices, I think about turning into the wind.