English 12

Let’s Set Sail

(1) When I first moved to Maine, I immediately made friends with a lobsterman, named1 Joseph. (2) For his career, he laid2 lobster traps for a living, but he enjoyed most the mini-fleet of sleek, quickly3 one-person sailboats he owned. (3) I had no experience sailing when4 I had always been a bit nervous about being out on the ocean alone. (4) I was extremely hesitant, but Joseph assured me that, as long as I wore a life vest, I would be completely fine. (5) After a few weeks of literally showing me the ropes, however,5 Joseph asked me if I wanted to take a solo ride. [6]

Joseph untied the Sea Fairer and the Jennifer Lauren, his two favorite small sailing vessels. When everything was prepared, Joseph instructed me to climb aboard them7. I grabbed the tiller, as I had been instructed, and tightened my mainsail to catch more wind. “This is not so bad,” I thought to myself, as I looked out at my mentor, who was more than 100 yards away. I interpreted Joseph’s hearty smile8 and thumbs-up as signs that I was doing fine.

I was a sailing prodigy, I figured,9 Joseph would tell me that I was ready to sail his 40-foot schooner when we returned to land. Controlling a large battleship, I felt like my tiny one-seater was ready to cross the Atlantic.10 Just as I gained this immense confidence, I saw Joseph wave his arm three times, which it11 was our signal to head back to the docks. My head dropped and my feet dragged as I prepared to turn back around.12

I acted hastily when I saw the storm clouds approaching on the horizon. Like a good and responsible sailor, I had checked the forecast when I left that morning, and there had been no sign of storms. At first, I was fearful like a horror movie or rollercoaster,13 but I knew that if I focused on everything Joseph had taught me, I would have been14 fine.

The details are not necessary, but let’s just say Joseph had to bail me out of a few errors that I made while returning to shore. Clearly, I survived to tell the tale, but it was years of more training before I finally felt ready to take on the ultimate challenge of a master skipper15: to captain the crew of Joseph’s main lobster ship.