Thursday, January 14, 2010

Who knows which way the wind is blowing?

My friend Doug Cleckner, who was a great sailor and a great human being, once gave me sailing lessons in exchange for some writing I did for him. Before we ever went out on the water, Doug taught me about the wind. He showed me the wind line and the different ways the wind leaves its footprint on the water (pretty). He taught me about true wind and apparent wind (confusing). And he tried to teach me where the wind was coming from, but this was a lesson I just could not grasp.

I remember the two of us standing on the breakwater in Santa Cruz, gusts of wind blowing our hair into our eyes. "Point in the direction of the wind," Doug would say, and I'd point obediently toward the wind, or where I thought the wind was. He'd always take my finger and move it a fraction to the left or the right. I could tell generally where the wind was coming from; just not precisely. And he'd laugh because that fraction of an inch mattered a lot if you wanted to be a good sailor, which, despite Doug's heroic efforts, I never was.

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