Friday, June 22, 2012

Sailing Slow

THE invitation to go sailing in one of the sailboats peacefully tied to the dock of Smiling Cove Marina was one I did not hesitate to jump at a couple of weeks back.
The bright afternoon sun shot painful rays in our unprotected skin but it was one adventure I was not willing to quash with the fear of a few sunburns. We drove to the Smiling Cove and for the first time, I had the chance to walk on the floating docks—a chance that only boat owners and their friends usually have.
At the end of the long dock wedged in between two other sailboats was the Zen, owned by friend Matt from NMC. I eyed the boat doubfully as I calculated there were six of us and it was not a big one but honestly, I was more concerned for my camera since I conveniently forgot to bring a plastic cover for it.
Friend Donna maneuvered the sailboat smoothly out of the cove and toward the open water of the Saipan lagoon. Matt and one other companion, Jason started unfurling the sails and suddenly the wind caught—which caught me by surprise. The sailboat tilted to a precarious angle which honestly alarmed me. I have boarded boats of different kinds even under the angriest of waves in the Pacific before, even survived an inflatable boat ride over Saipan’s choppy waters but that time was different. I was not prepared to die. Or drown my new camera which had me scrimping for a long time saving money to pay for it.
Matt removed one of the sails and the boat went upright again, this time sailing straightly on the not-so-calm waters.
With only single ropes acting as handholds around the boat, it was quite challenging having to jump to the other side when the boat tilts to one side and maintaining your balance so as not to fall off the sides but that added to the thrill.
As the sailing trip was unplanned, Matt didn’t have a GPS to guide us so we just sailed back and forth in the lagoon, enjoying the view from the sea and watching schools of fish swimming near the boat.
An hour later, we were rewarded with one of nature’s gifts bestowed on this side of the planet—a spectacular sunset which we raced to capture with our cameras. When the last rays of the sun was safely tucked beneath the horizon for the day, we slowly made our way back to the dock.
The cruise boats offering sunset dinner cruises for tourists and locals also started gliding back toward the dock. From a distance, we could see the passengers of the Stars and Stripes waving at us as they joined the festive dancing on deck.
With shaky feet, I jumped on the floating dock of the Smiling Cove Marina after the boat was securely tied, glad for the experience albeit unplanned. One day, look for the right time to experience slow sailing around Saipan’s waters. You will be surprised at what lies in store for you.

First published HERE