By Jack Klang
As the snow falls and we engage in the busyness of the holidays, our days on the water seem like a thing of the past; but it doesn’t have to be that way. Instead, I invite you to take a moment to reflect with me on how the simple pleasures of Christmas and sailing are what bring joy and contentment to each of these special seasons.
It may not be evident right away, but if you allow your imagination to run free it is possible to see similarities between the Christmas tree in your living room and your sailboat. From the star on top to the stand below (including the sparkly ornaments in between) you can see the Christmas tree echoed in the anchor light, keel, winches, cleats, and shiny blocks on your boat. Twinkle lights on a tree serve as reminders of the twinkly stars of a summer night.
Like a Charlie Brown-Christmas tree, some sailboats are small and a little worn. Are they less fun to sail? Other sailboats contain all the conveniences and amenities of a luxury hotel. Are they more fun to sail? A Charlie Brown-Christmas tree can be enjoyed and loved as much as a huge tree full of lights. A small, well-used sailboat can be as enjoyable as a new yacht. It’s the sailing that counts.
While sailing, as during the holiday season, we can allow ourselves to become caught up in operational details causing us to miss the true pleasures of the experience. It’s easy to spend too much of our on-the-water time adjusting the autopilot or looking at our computer. Sometimes we allow ourselves to become so focused on a schedule or destination that we fail to delight in things like a slow-paced cruise, circling birds, a setting sun, or a wave gurgling across the bow.
I believe it’s important to enjoy the journey rather than focus on the next destination, to feel the pressure on the tiller rather than the hum of an autopilot. Personally, I like to spend more time observing cloud formations and wave patterns than the coordinates of a GPS. As I take in the twinkling lights of my Christmas tree, I remind myself how fortunate I am to be a sailor and to have the opportunity each year to enjoy the blue water, white sails, and clean air of a day under sail.
May your holiday and your sailing seasons be colorful, magnificent, shimmering, and joyful! Merry Christmas!
About the Author
Jack Klang is a Cruising Consultant for Quantum Sail Design Group. He has shared his vast experience with thousands of sailors through his seminars, a syndicated newspaper column, magazine feature articles, television and movie appearances. He is the author of “Cruising with Quantum” a series of how-to articles covering all aspects of sailboat cruising as well as an instructional video. Jack is recognized as one of the country’s five best sailing speakers, appearing at boat shows across the country. For the past five decades, Jack has sailed the Great Lakes, Atlantic and Pacific Coasts, Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexico. He earned his first Coast Guard captain’s license at age 18 and has logged over 30,000 miles under sail as a cruiser, ASA instructor, charter captain and delivery skipper. Contact Jack at captjack1(at)charter.net.