Doldrums – (from Wikipedia) .. noted for calm periods when the winds disappear altogether, trapping sail-powered boats for periods of days or weeks. Colloquially, the “doldrums” are a state of inactivity, mild depression, listlessness or stagnation.
— a common, well-understood term in the sailing community, and one that comes frequently to mind this time of year. As summer heat builds, it seems only two weather conditions prevail; hot, humid and still or hot, humid and thunderstorms. Neither condition is conducive to good sailing. So what to do with this time that includes much of July and August?
Some options include: make sailing plans for when more favorable conditions return, make those postponed repairs/improvements, catch up on ‘home chores’ and/or seek air-conditioning. These options will clearly fill the time, and are productive ways to do so.
For myself, I’ve been working through a long list of home projects/repairs, finishing a set of companionway doors for the boat, and developing plans for extended sails come September/October and beyond. In addition, it provides a quiet time to reflect on a variety of personal and philosophical issues.
‘Forced’ quiet time can remind us to slow down, think about priorities and the important things in life – maybe even turn off the cell phone and computer? Among more personal and arguably more important matters, emerge thoughts about why we sail, and why sailing can easily become a way of life.
Lyrics in Kenny Chesney songs, “vessels of freedom, harbors of healing”, resonate with the feelings that often come when on the water, powered quietly by the wind with “nowhere to go, and nowhere to be”. Whether real or imagined, sailing offers a sense of total freedom to go wherever you choose and the wind can take you. And maybe to capture just that feeling is the fundamental reason we sail.