Before we got becalmed, our average speed was between 4.2-4.5 knots, pretty respectable for a small boat.
Becalmed is a funny word with a Shakespearean sound. To a sailor it often means conflict, a contest of external forces and internal will, as if the absence of wind is a force that must be resisted along with the chafe of slatting sails. After awhile one tends to involuntarily attach adverbs like "hopelessly" to it, which is puzzling until your active imagination remembers scenes of skeleton ships in movies seen as a kid. There's a queer-ish suite of emotions associated with being becalmed, most notably annoyance and fear. What if the wind doesn't blow for another two weeks and we're stuck here? We don't have enough fuel to motor very far; what if our water supply runs low? Becalmed simultaneously introduces uncertainty and the one certainty that we're going to sit right here for awhile.
A sailboat is meant to move. Sailors work the ship. In a calm, there's not much to do and little result if you try. The great sailor Eric Hiscock hated calms more than anything else, even storms. We didn't hate being becalmed this time, but I admit to feeling that suite of emotion and itching to do something active rather than just sit and wait. Jim, on the other hand, seemed content, even curious to find out how such a thing might affect him. We learn from each other, and thank goodness the learning never stops.
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