ANCHORS & SAILS: Staying put and moving on

Brenda Kelley Kim

“It is the set of the sails not the direction of the wind that determines which way we will go.”

Jim Rohn

Anchors and Sails.

Two very important parts of a boat, but they are somewhat opposite, when you think about it.

When the wind fills a sail, an adventure begins. You’re off, you’re moving across the water, toward a destination or a dream, hopefully with fair winds and following seas.

When you drop anchor, usually it means you’ve reached your journey’s end. You’ve come over the waves, perhaps through a storm, and now you’re safely anchored, ready to regroup for whatever is next.

Much like roots and wings, which we are what we hope to give our children, in everyone’s life there are sails that propel us to wherever the next task, job, or goal is.

There are anchors as well, that keep us safely held, out of harm’s way. Home, family, friends and so much else, can be the anchors that keep us from being swept away.

Like anything, there needs to be a balance. You can’t sail forever. You can’t stay stuck in a harbor all the time, either. Ships were not built to stay safely in protected waters. 

The reason I know this is that a very good friend of mine had a goal that when she and her husband retired, they would sail away on their boat and live life on the sea. Leeanne and Charlie have always been avid sailors, and knew what they were getting into and the work it would take.

They did it, too, but not without a few storms along the way. Hurricane season is no joke where they are. The Sea of Cortez can have bad weather that will bash a boat to bits. It also has some beautiful small anchorages, in quaint harbors, that provide shelter.

Over the years, they’ve had their share of tranquil times, as well as rogue squalls, and it’s all been part of the adventure. They’ve learned when to make for the open sea and when to snug into a cove.

They continue to spend time in the deep blue, but they also plan to tuck into quiet anchorages when necessary, and they even pull the boat once in awhile, for a little extended time “on the hard.” 

That kind of knowledge isn’t just for sailors, though. Knowing when to anchor and when to sail is mostly just a metaphor for looking around at your own environment and figuring out what your next move should be.

Should you take that new job, even if it means making some major changes? Should you stick with a relationship, career, or other situation, because it’s comfortable and familiar?

We all make decisions like this every day, but what happens in between the sailing and the anchoring?

I’m not aware of a sailing term that covers that, and I think the reason might be that there isn’t much inertia in boat life. There’s deck paint, and brightwork, and maintenance to deal with, even at anchor. 

I’m thrilled to be back writing a regular column in this community. Every time a piece has to be written, it’s a decision on which way to go. Head for open water or stay safely moored?

That’s why I think “Anchors and Sails” is a pretty good name for this new chapter. Perhaps, as issues come up, the best path might be clearer if get everything in my head down to 700-800 words? Getting to do that, especially in this amazing place, has always been an anchor for me.

Anchoring doesn’t mean nothing happens, and setting sail doesn’t mean you won’t see the shore again. The in-between of staying put and heading out, the daily dilemmas we all face in trying to navigate it all, and the tales of when it goes well and when it doesn’t could turn out to be like a rising tide, that lifts all boats?

OK, perhaps that’s a bit much. It won’t always be a Hallmark moment of truth and beauty, but it’s my hope that being able to write in my hometown of friends and family keeps a few of you entertained.

We’ll sea…

1 Comment

  • This is ALL SO TRUE!

    I’m the LeeAnne mentioned in the article, and I can tell you that Brenda nailed not only the sailing life, but life in general.

    We don’t make plans, we go where the wind takes us. Which isn’t always possible when you are a dirt-dweller with responsibilities and other people counting on you. But we know how fortunate we are to have been able to cut our dock lines and live this nomad life. I recommend it for anyone willing to give it a try.

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