Narragansett Bay: The Sound of Silence

By Milosz Pierwola (AdventureMilo.com)

The motor whirred in the dark blue water as we passed buoys marking the limits of the marina. Then silence as the captain began to unfurl the sails and we transitioned to wind power. This is the biggest reason I enjoy the open sea, it allows for an uninterrupted clear connection to our world as you glide across a surface of the calm water, perfectly at peace.

No matter what you do, if you’ve spent all day in the office for five days straight, then you’re itching for a change of scenery on the fifth! Plans materialized and the weekend could wait no longer. With several days working late during the week, it was not hard to cut out early on Friday and bring whatever tasks were left, on the false notion that any of it would get done before Monday.

Suddenly, I found myself on the highway at noon, heading north to a state I had passed by but never stopped in, Rhode Island. Arriving at the marina, tall masts of yachts docked and moored in the water gently swayed in what appeared to be a choreographed dance as the waves hit them in unison. Poking up from their boats, smiling faces shot up and waved or said hello. “Come aboard!” a voice from inside said, and with that, we jumped in and darted out of the harbor.

The wind blew nearly perfectly at us and opposite of the direction we set out for, forcing us to tack in a zig-zag pattern. In sailing, “tacking” means changing direction by turning a boat's “bow” or front into and through the wind. This way, the headwind pushed our yacht at an angle but forward; and once we strayed too far off course from our destination, we simply tacked into the opposite direction and then repeated. In my opinion, this is ideal with a steady wind because it means that sailing home is swift and, in the best scenarios, allows for “butterflying.” Butterflying is perhaps the most majestic way to sail, with the mainsail open in an opposite direction to the secondary sail or “jib.”

In the Narragansett Bay, navigating the changing currents of wind is the challenge. As we passed the various islands, some large enough to build a city on and some mere rocks barely poking out of the waves, we felt changes in the invisible currents overhead. Sometimes you could see it on the water too, a large area of disturbed surface waves as if the liquid was a different consistency from the rest.

It all kept us busy, tacking from one side to the other and navigating along the rocky shoreline. Other sailboats would pass, waving with a smile each time, as well as motorboats that would produce large wakes sending our yacht bouncing up and down with the mast swinging wildly over each wave. The water was beautifully clear with a deep blue hue and the sun darted in and out from behind textured clouds.

Sailing takes time and requires patience. You can’t go faster than the wind, and so you must abandon your impatience and learn to appreciate the stillness and silence in-between the place you start and the place you end. It doesn’t just bring you closer to the world, it brings you closer to yourself. As you gently glide over the dark waters, your gift is time to appreciate and reflect. And, once you realize this, you find yourself longing for return.