Some people like to jump out of airplanes. Others like to climb mountains or shoot the rapids in a kayak. There are many ways to satisfy the need for adventure in life. I find this need interesting because it hints at the lingering power our evolutionary legacy as hunter gatherers, leading dangerous lives not nearly at the top of the food chain, still has over our lives.
When it comes to my own needs in this category, I like to sail. Sometimes it’s for relaxed adventure, like a sunset ride with friends on Boston Harbor, or a leisurely cruise around the Virgins on a big comfy boat with all the amenities of home. But lately I’m more often chasing the adrenaline. Racing is the easiest way to satisfy this need but my newly developing fetish is a rarely accessed combination of overpowered sportboats and harsh weather conditions.
Last Sunday I was invited to help deliver a pretty special boat from Boston to Plymouth where she’ll be hauled out for the winter. I’ve written about previous experiences on The Cone of Silence on my other blog dedicated to sailing. She’s a Reichel-Pugh Super 30 with a lot of victory in her wake and one hell of a ride. A carbon fiber sled, capable of traveling 20 knots downwind without using a drop of fuel, she does amazing things under a spinnaker but, like many hot dates, she’s also notoriously fickle. Every moment under the kite is no more than a single, breathtaking second from a hair-raising broach.
What’s a broach you ask? Oh yeah, well that’s when the entire boat suddenly veers of course, comes to a dead stop, and slams over sideways, turning the deck almost 90 degrees to the horizon and catapulting anything not tethered to the boat into the ocean. This is a difficult situation to resolve under the best circumstances. Add some harsh weather and a few miles of deep blue sea between you and the shore and it becomes a genuine moment for reflection on life.
The conditions for this trip Sunday were perfect for adrenaline seeking. Winds were 20-25 knots out of the north, air temperature was 45 degrees and raining. Big ocean rollers were following the wind with seas 8-10 feet and a couple of breaking waves over 12 feet. Though the fish-eyed lens on my GoPro does a terrible job of translating the massive, quartering waves in the video that follows, an experienced eye will recognize the combers we were crashing through off-shore in Cape Cod Bay.