Once, before I started sailing, I said that it couldn’t be so complicated. It isn’t philosophy for god’s sake. And it isn’t. Basically it’s physics and logics, knowledge and skill. You raise your sails and sail. So why is the blog title Sailosophy then? Well, because sailing isn’t only boat, sails, sea and the wind. The missing link here is man. And when you put man into an equation, the result is philosophy, or, less arrogant, a way of life.
Since I’m a journalist, not a philosopher, I find it hard to write about abstract things. So I will quote well known Croatian writer and sailor Joža Horvat who described that way of life very well when he said:
The one who once gets splashed by the sea under sails never washes down the salt”
I also heard that siren call of the sea and the wind and I have been following it for more than a year now. During that time I realized that the most important dimension of that way of life is a perspective that it gives.
Until recently my perspective was totally different. I had a ‘real’ job, occasionally a ‘real’ girlfriend, ‘real’ mortgage for an apartment, and for the past several years I have lived in a ‘real’ crisis. I can’t say that I managed poorly ‘in the system’. And for sure I was a part of it much more than I realized.
But, somewhere deep, something was wrong. The system collided with my set of values more and more. However, because of the fear of losing my ground I held to its ‘security’ or ‘commotion’ and I didn’t see a way out of the darkness that surrounded me.
And then I lost my health.
When I recovered after a while I didn’t know what to do with myself. And although I tried a few times I knew that there’s no way back to the old way of life. Then I asked myself – What do you really want? There was no clear answer, but instinctively I knew I wanted to sail. Believe me, I didn’t have a clue of what that really means. There were only books about great explorers and sailors that I red and a childhood spent near the sea behind me.
And the sea always represented some vague and unfulfilled opportunity to me. For long I believed that if you dip a finger in the sea you are connected to the whole world. Now I know that if you do that all you have is a wet finger. If you want to connect to the world you have to set out to sea.
I don’t know how exactly, but soon after that I found myself in the village of Jezera, on the island of Murter attending ANA sailing school, cleaning and painting their boats and preparing them for the next sailing season. After a long time I felt pleasure in what I was doing. And then it started – one course followed another and so on. By the end of the season I sailed the whole Adriatic.
Every time I left the ‘safety’ of the shore I felt better, more normal, and, more importantly, healthier. The doors of the ‘real’ world were closing, but the other one, of a new world, were opening. And then it hit me – hell, this is real! That’s when I realized that I prefer the sea to the ground under my feet.
Life is the sea
The sea and the boat, namely, aren’t an everyday environment for most people. We are so much ‘cught up in the system’ that it seems that we can’t understand a simple and natural logic that lies behind sailing. That’s why children sail the best. They rely on feeling. But after few days on a boat that logic and feeling reveals itself. I think that’s because, we subordinate ourselves to the laws of nature, not of people, society, economy… and we start to behave more naturally because of that.
And there is no scam at the sea. Because your every action has more or less direct consequence. You are stripped of your background, education, titles, status and wealth. And you get to face yourself very quickly. And there are some things you like, but, believe me, there are also some that you don’t.
Unfortunately there are some people who behave themselves in described way on the sea. But they put themselves in danger. And not only themselves. Because, in spite of all your courage and knowledge, if you don’t respect the elements and their force and you don’t feel small under the stars when facing them, you are doomed.
So, where’s the catch? The catch is that you have to accept the fact that in sailing, as in life after all, absolute security – because of which we always need more of everything – simply doesn’t exist. Because, only than everything is possible. And you have to realize that nature is your only master. And that that’s the way it should be, not the other way around.
Only then you can really enjoy the wind and the sea. As a Croatian song says – life is the sea. And I would like to add that a man is a boat. Every now and then you have to lift it from the sea, scratch all the dirt that caught on it during sailing, give it a fresh paint job and let it sail again, free…
Sailing isn’t so complicated. It isn’t a philosophy for god’s sake.