Saturday, November 27, 2021

Changing Course and Holding Steady

I’m sitting on my boat at the Corinthian Yacht Club in Tiburon, and it's every bit as nice as it sounds. The views are stunning, the shops handy, and the weather is what everyone promised us for November in SF Bay—perfection.

Yesterday we sailed over from Point Richmond on a calm sea, under sunny skies, and we never even took the Bimini top down, the breeze was so light. But around here, you have to be ready to wheel about or speed up at any moment, due to the maritime traffic—ferries constantly criss-cross the water, a massive tanker is always steaming ponderously across the bay, and a zillion pleasure craft, tugs, fishing vessels and excursion boats fill in every gap in the parade.

We handled it all nicely but were glad to be approaching our destination in the early afternoon. Twilight comes early at this time of the year, and we were looking forward to dinner and drinks with some new friends. The yacht club site had a map that made the approach to their guest dock look pretty straightforward, and we’d been promised a long empty “end tie”, meaning we could simply pull up alongside and tie up. The only problem was, we couldn’t see over the sea wall to confirm that the guest dock was empty, so we had to enter blindly, hoping for the best.

Needless to say, once we’d entered the tiny harbor and saw the dock was full, it was almost too late to get turned around and get out. A power boat was heading out at the same time, making the narrow entrance between the sea wall and the jetty feel even tighter, while a people-packed ferry foamed and smoked at the passenger pier nearby, warning us that it might soon join the fray. 

Of course, Captain Russel was able to back up, spin around and get us clear without any problems, but there was a bit of tension aboard and a few colorful phrases were bandied about. I soon got the harbormaster “on the horn” and he promised to get the other side of the dock cleared for us promptly instead. I changed all the dock lines and bumpers to the starboard side as Russel motored us back in. We landed safely and all was well.

          View of SF and a heron last night from the Corinthian Yacht Club

What does this have to do with writing? Well, we writers often head rather blindly toward an unseen goal in our work, guided by our strong opinions of where we’ll end up. Sometimes, even once we see that the anchorage is untenable, or won’t work nearly as well as other options, we plow stubbornly onward, trying to make this new reality fit our long-cherished preconceived notions.

My advice is to keep navigating toward your destination, but always be ready to change course to avoid unexpected obstacles or to take a new tack due to a sudden shift in the wind. trust me, you will eventually be safely moored with all your loose ends tied up neatly (I couldn’t resist).

Hasta pronto!