Tonight isn’t fit for ship or crew.
So with nowhere to sail and the blue-black glow of night upon me, I walk the docks with collar up against the wind, restless, thinking of the past. Past captains and past glories. I’m not expecting revelation or existential experience, but I’d wish for some connection with the sailors, fisherman or pirates who have come before me. They and their sons have navigated these waters.
Through the building wind I struggle to hear something, anything, to help me understand, to know just a little about the struggle of others that have come before. When the wind peaks I can almost feel it. Did they hear the winds as I hear them?
Moisture thickens the air and drips from every line. Rare is the window alight that hints of a crew below, warm and safe, preparing for the next passage through the winter gales.
I walk past a tug, its history of cargo and people forgotten. It once traveled as we could only imagine, but those times are gone. On the bow an old anchor rusts from abandoned purpose.
Further down and just as silent sits a silver-clean sloop, holding the dreams of some racing skipper. This fine ship sits idle in the cold of winter, waiting for the fair winds of spring and an eager crew to haul her sheets and trim her sails.
Past, present, it all blurs together as I stand in the dark listening as the gale blows through the Sound.
Where are the sailors of old whose stories could have been told? To speak with them around a warm galley stove, with rum or wine, oh the adventures they would tell.
Cold and without any answers, I walk back and climb into my own warm boat. Still lost in the past I slip into bed and cuddle my wife, hoping I dream of dark black seas with white crests. Hoping that in sleep, I might finally begin to understand the courage of captains past.