I realized I had been on the boat for a few days and hadn’t actually sailed yet. As we pulled out of NYC at dusk, I thought maybe now is the time; it would be cool sailing out of Manhattan. Great idea! Sailing for the first time in a decade, out of one of the busiest ports on the east coast at sunset. What could possibly go wrong?
We passed underneath the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, turned into the wind and got the sails up, before heading out of the channel to the open ocean. Initially I could easily see the channel markers, and track out our path on the radar screen as the light faded. No problem.
Luke and Capt’n immediately went down below to investigate and try to resolve the numerous mysteries of Sailboat Liberty. I was up on deck sailing alone; albeit nervously. I got this, I thought to myself reassuringly.
An enormous cargo ship passed to starboard. As I marveled at how big it was, an even bigger one passed to port. I didn’t even see that one until it was coming up right behind us. How did I miss something so massive?! It was full-on dark now.
My initial thought was to follow that container ship out. But I second-guessed myself and so tried to follow what I thought was the channel. I was having a hard time following it in the dark and felt I was drifting to the wrong side. The Captain came up as we passed a channel buoy to starboard, “You are a little close to that.” I probably had a sheepish look as I thought “Hell yes! I am close because I only just saw it!
The Captain cocked his head, contemplating that something wasn’t quite right here. At the same time we came to the same conclusion- I’ve sailed us totally out of the channel to port. I was outside of the channel buoys, on the completely wrong side of the channel. Basically It’s like I am driving on the breakdown lane on the wrong side of the highway, going against traffic. Thankfully no boats were around. Cap’t calmly walked over to the helm…”Let’s get us back on course.”
That was the last time I was behind the wheel, which was fair enough. I’m not sure ‘fake it til you make it’ applies to sailing. Whatever. I haven’t sunk us…yet, and I was loving it…. when someone else was sailing.