A poetic offering for the beginning of September.

Pale dawn light breaks with song of thrush and wren,
Tucked behind small island in McBride Bay.
Anchor fouled; I was lucky once again.
Sport fish boats speed, full throttle, on their way,
Missing subtle charm of forest and shore,
To reach some spot where they plan to go slow.
Tahsis Inlet heights, where stern eagles soar,
Through rain clouds threat, brief gaps of bright sun glow.

Sea otters float, ignore my intrusion,
Smash their bivalves with shocking violence.
Best bays blocked due to fish farms exclusion,
Yes, we need protein but this makes no sense.
Converted mine sweep, Uchuck III, on her way,
She’s an old friend, a reassuring sight.
Alongside Gore Island, will the breeze stay?
Wind holds through the gap, sweat halyards up tight.

Five knots straightaway, we’re nearly hull speed,
If we hit six then it’s time to reef down.
Sun’s out now with dappled cloud above peaks.
The scene is sublime, no place for a frown.
Now speed is more than six, sometimes seven,
Wind over transom tops more than twenty.
Reef time once more, round up and drop the main,
Straight to third reef, though small, it’s still plenty.

We’re on a tear now, still way too much sail,
Furl up the mizzen, blowing twenty five.
A glance at the chart, there’s no place to bail;
Shouldn’t be here - can I get out alive?
Can’t reef any more so hang on and steer,
The boat picks up her skirts and off she planes.
Speed’s up past nine now, beginnings of fear,
First time this quick, maybe never again.

The wharf and launch ramp are approaching fast,
How the hell to pull off dropping the rig?
Sheltered a bit by the point once I’m past,
There lies my hope, where the swell’s not too big.
Throw the helm over, shoot in to the lee,
Water is flatter, the wind still blows hard.
Wrestle the sail down on a still rough sea,
The sail won’t behave ‘til I grab the yard.

Strike both the masts and ship both of the oars,
From broadside on, try to heave the stern round,
She wants to broach - but one short strong pull more,
I’m hard by the quay, for the ramp inbound.
A dock hand shouts: Were you sailing out there?
In those waves, in that little boat I see?
You bet, I reply, just for fun, I swear,
Although it may not be your cup of tea.

On final approach the wind is no more,
The heat off the land exhales in great gouts.
Tie up the boat, drag my tired butt ashore,
Excitement’s done, now it’s time to chill out.


Alex Zimmerman


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