Heart Happy (cathy_edgett) wrote,
Heart Happy

The Long Way

Here is another excerpt from Bernard Moitessier's book The Long Way, where he sails solo around the world. 

He has not seen or spoken to anyone in months.  He is alone with his boat, the wind, waves, and birds. 

    "I was in my bunk, and went on deck to sheet the mainsail and mizzen flat; they were making a little noise in the very slight roll. The moon, in her first quarter, was at mid-sky. Three shearwaters were sleeping a few yards from the stern. They did not move while I worked, though I had awakened them.  Two fluffed themselves up, the third preened his feathers. 

     I was about to go to bed, but seeing them there, busy doing their little toilet, I went to the stern and spoke to them, very softly, just like that. And they came right alongside. Yet I had not spoken the magic words.

     I kept on talking the same way.  They raised their heads toward me, cocking them to one side, right and left, from time to time giving a barely audible little cry in answer, as if they were trying to say that they liked me too. They may have added they liked cheese, but I could feel in an almost physical way that there was something more than food to that whispered conversation, something very moving: the friendship they were returning to me. I went below to get a piece of cheese and cut it into little squares. When I came up again, they had gone back to their former places a few yards from the stern. They did not approach as I silently went to the tiller. But as soon as I spoke to them, softly, without any "kew-kew", they swam toward me, leaving a faint wake gleaming in the moonlight. I stretched out on deck so they could eat the cheese out of my hand.

     They took it without squabbling. And I had the feeling, again almost physically, that my hand drew them more than the cheese. I wanted to caress them, at least to try. But I did not dare;  maybe it was too soon. With a clumsy and premature gesture I risked breaking something very fragile. Wait a while longer, don't rush things, don't force things. Wait until the waves of friendship, made of invisible vibrations, reach their full maturity. You can spoil everything, trying to go faster than nature."

I am only one-third of the way through the book.   What more is to come, and my lesson for today is to pace myself with nature, with a slow, tender wake. 


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