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dylanwinter1 02-07-2013 02:48 PM

sailing a spiritual experience
I have asked this question on other fora

I myself do not believe in the hairy man in the sky

I am an ag engineer who has ended up as a hack and a cameraman

but sometimes while sailing solo I have been so overcome with the perfection of the physics and fluid dynamics going on around me and this miraculous organic machine that I get close to having a spiritual experience

I can feel a blog coming on and would welcome your thoughts


PS I did pose the same question on a mobo forum and was told that I was a bit of prat (I paraphrase for the sake of brevity and decency)

nolatom 02-07-2013 03:01 PM

Re: sailing a spiritual experience
I think most of us have a religious need as part of our human nature, and look for something to fill it. Thus all the searching.

For me it was and is religion. For others it could be the beauty of nature, or of the precision of science, reflected in what we see, hear, and feel. Sailing is likely one of those reflections.

This is as complicated as my thinking gets.

Barquito 02-07-2013 03:23 PM

Re: sailing a spiritual experience
I think everyone has their own reaction of sailing, nature, beauty, etc. Here is a non-theist Quaker's thoughts (not my words):


As 24 year old George Fox sat by the fire one morning in the Vale of Belvoir, he wondered if "All things come by Nature." I would reply, "Yes, they do and what a marvelous world it is!" I love nature above all else. The world known to our senses and the inferences we draw by reason and intuition are enough for me. Our intimations of the divine, our spiritual natures, our creative insights and the urge to love these all exist and are important, but they are natural phenomena, they are humans responding to their environments.

tdw 02-07-2013 03:41 PM

Re: sailing a spiritual experience
Hey Dylan, nice to see you, so to speak.

This comes down to the old "I'm not religious but I am spiritual" discussion which we won't go into here cos the thread will end up banished to Off Topic.

However, even the hardest of hearts, in the most cynical of rodents cannot but be moved by the wonders we see around us. I look on this in the same way I can be moved by music, the written word, film, naked women and small fluffy animals. Not I hasten to add all at the same time.

There are of course few things more likely to stir the inner self than being on board a boat, camping out in a wilderness or simply sitting on a beach at dawn. On a boat it can be dawn breaking after a wild night at sea, dolphins playing in the phosphorescence as you drift through a dead calm sea or sunset in a perfect anchorage. For us, all that in the last few weeks and a boat is a damn fine platform for such reverie. Belief in sky pixies, not necessary.

Cheers DW.

Andrew B

killarney_sailor 02-07-2013 08:45 PM

Sailing can sometimes we incredible. Had a remarkable experience approaching South Africa last year. After a miserable night, dark as the inside of a cow, raining, winds to 40 knots, it cleared with the dawn and the winds dropped to 25 to 30 on a broad reach. We spotted land and had the remarkable realization that we had crossed the Indian Ocean and were looking at Africa - could almost see the elephants and lions from ten miles away. We were in the Agulhas Current which helped us average about nine knots - and then the whales appeared. We saw a pod of right whales and then half dozen humpbacks in mating rituals including jumping put of the water. June and I looked at each other and didn't have to say anything - it didn't get any better than this.

jackdale 02-08-2013 12:27 AM

Re: sailing a spiritual experience
When I am sailing and everything is just right, I am at one with nature (the wind and the water) and the boat. The only thing that matters is the moment.

For a guy with a history major as an undergrad and future studies as a grad, that is exquisite. The past and the future get lost for a while.

BTW - read my signature.

Flybyknight 02-08-2013 09:19 AM

Re: sailing a spiritual experience
The most memorable religious experience in my 25' Cape Dory was when seas were 8' and wind gusting to 45 knots on a lee shore.

RunningRabbit 02-08-2013 09:37 AM

Re: sailing a spiritual experience
I certainly expect it would be spiritual to many, both in times of perfect weather and in the middle of nature's fury. Perhaps it is the sense of harnessing the immense power of the wind and sea, but knowing that at any moment Mother Nature can turn the tables most viciously. Or perhaps for some the sense of "oneness" with the world around us that many seek. When you complete your blog post please come back and share the link.

wingNwing 02-08-2013 09:56 AM

Re: sailing a spiritual experience
Sailing at night under a sky filled to the rim with stars.

Sailing at night with lightning crashing around 360 degrees.

Watching the first glow of the coming sunrise lighten the horizon.

All these big obvious sailing moments can inspire, if not spiritual or religious feelings, at least a reminder of our relative size and importance in the universe.

But then, so can the smaller moments: ghosting along on a sunny afternoon, in light winds on a bay full of sunlight sparkles. Those subtle moments, when the wind that moves your boat isn't massive and obviously powerful, but almost unnoticeable and yet your sails still move you, are simultaneously easier and harder to comprehend. That is where the real magic happens.

Dylan, my colleague Sarita Suzanne at Monkey's Fist is looking for blog posts about the singlehanding experience, may I give her your link? The Monkey's Fist: Collecting Cruisers' Perspectives: Going It Alone

Edit: Oops, sorry, looks like she was posting while I was composing - great minds, and all that.

blutoyz 02-08-2013 12:15 PM

Re: sailing a spiritual experience
Stop once in a while and look around...everyday you can have what could be defined as a "spiritual" experience in my opinion. The water does make it easier to see the bigger picture sometimes though;)

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