Thursday, July 30, 2009

La gazza ladra

Lynnhaven Bay Sailors, 2007

I live on the Lynnhaven River, a few miles from where it flows into the Chesapeake Bay. I took my little boat out one Saturday morning to run some errands and was coming back up the river towards home when I came upon a flotilla of day sailors in a section where the river widens to make a bay.

They were mostly older guys out in boats they’d been sailing for years. You see them out on Saturday mornings and on Sunday afternoons, gliding elegantly and quietly across the smooth waters like feluccas on the Nile. They still dress and behave in a relaxed manner reminiscent of a time when sailing was a sport of gentlemen.

Every now and again big cigarette boats bully their way across the bay and jet skiers buzz through the sailing fleet like bees or the proverbial thieving magpies, making a racket and causing swells deep enough to swamp the little sailboats. Inconsiderate bastards.

I stayed back a way for a while, idling my outboard and letting the water calm and the sailors catch their breath. When the noise of the other boaters subsided I was overtaken by the serenity of the moment. There wasn’t much wind. The sky, normally full of commercial and military air traffic, was for once quiet. The incoming tide was giving the little sailboats just enough push to be navigable. From the far shore I could hear conversations and dogs barking. Occasionally a fish jumped out of the water, as if to dare the ospreys that swoop overhead. At the edge of the channel, commercial watermen moved quietly along, hauling up and emptying a string of crab pots in a carefully choreographed minimum of motions worked out over many seasons. Along the shore kayakers in brightly colored life jackets paddled among low marsh islands.

One of the sailors who noticed my courtesy waved to thank me. When they had all passed over the channel into shallower waters where the other boat traffic couldn’t bother them, I continued home.

At times like this I think of how fortunate I am to live in such a place and how I lucky I am to know better than to take moments like this for granted.

1 comment:

  1. It sounds idyllic. You're a born story-teller--I'm really glad you're doing this blog. And what a beautiful cobalt blue sky. (or is that French ultramarine? Hmmmmm...)