October 19, 2019
5am. The alarm sounds to wake me though I’ve been up since three o’clock.
For some time I lay in the dark listening to the wind whine in the rigging. Mo tugs at her chain. I wait for sleep to descend again, but it has slipped away in the night to play with the coyotes calling from the headland.
Today we return home. My heart pounds. The bunk rejects me.
I make coffee but can’t sit to drink it. By flashlight I continue the endless job of tidying the deck in preparation for our Golden Gate entry.
I point Mo to the E and toward Limantour Beach, well clear of the Chimney Rocks reef. Yesterday on the leg down from Bodega Bay, we encountered a long, large swell from the NW. At Point Reyes and over this reef, seas stacked up frighteningly. Giants curled and crashed and
At Mile Rocks, we will be joined by other vessels that will sail us in. At Cavallo Point, family and friends will be waving. At the Sausalito Yacht Club, I will encounter other friends and the press. Closure and an opening, but an opening to what?
There is a sense of foreboding, not at the idea of being home but rather at the display that will accompany my return. Will I be what people expect? Will I remember my remarks? Will I make a sailing blunder for all to see?
Having passed so many difficulties, having relied so often on my own resource and on Mo’s extraordinary ability–and still to be worried about what others will think. It appears I have not left my faults behind. “What we have done, we have done,” I say
“And we did it as well as we knew,” says Mo.
“Senior, it is the time for coming home,” says Monte.
10:30am. I am an hour early to Mile Rocks. Already there are three boats waiting and two climbing the light W wind from the Gate. Congratulations are shouted across the water as we heave through the swell on the bar. Now there are ten boats, including friends who sailed out to see me off a year ago. Slowly I let the wind and tide draw us closer to the gate. Red rocks, red bridge, gray sky. Now there are fourteen boats in the flotilla. Horns blast as we slide below the great span, and then we are in the bay.
For years I have followed the track of the Figure 8, always pressing on and pressing further, and now the double loop is finally closed.
12:30pm. I let Mo take the wind on the beam and we race toward Cavallo Point. One last charge. Show them what you can do, my friend! Then a cheer at the point as we swing round. Waves and cheers and the flood pulling us further in.
Then we are nosing into the yacht club. A bagpipe sounds. Hands reach for lines. Other hands catch Mo’s rails. Gently she is eased into the dock. Another cheer for Mo. Joanna approaches smiling. A kiss for completion. In that
“Home is the sailor, home from the sea” is a haunting line, filled with profound relief and a touch of melancholy.
Because for all its attraction, the sea is not home.
The wind blows. The waves continue their heave and roll. The sea awaits. Always the sea awaits…