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Sail Away
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Sail Away
An autobiographical story that ends with a point about the quest for the meaning of life, and what the meaning of life is to me, the author.
[1,295 words]
Kevin Myrick

K Myrick

I'm currently a College Student enrolled at Auburn University in Auburn, AL. I'm studying Political Science, but thinking of changing my major to English, or double majoring. I'm interested in computers, the outdoors and of course, writing. I read a lot instead of watching TV, because in truth there is nothing more of value to watch on TV anymore.
[December 2003]
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A Gunslinger's Death Is Always Best (Short Stories) The Sixth in the Sierra Madre Stories, finally typed up for your enjoyment. [3,668 words] [Crime]
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Sail Away
Kevin Myrick

It has been many years since I last experienced time on the water. I was eleven years old, some say going on twenty-one, when I was at a sailing camp in Beaufort, South Carolina. It was a summer affair, children would be dropped off by their parents in the morning, and by the afternoon when work was over they would drive up in their cars and return us home, sunburned and salty from the dayís events. It was the third day of this camp that stands out in memory the most for me; it was the day I almost sank a sailboat.

This was to be our first "solo" sailing, on small Sunfish sailboats. These boats had a capacity for three, but normally only two people would sail on these tiny boats, and would venture out onto the water without much trouble. Low in weight, their speed was extreme when the winds were right, and they were prone to flipping in tack and jibe movements. This is the reason I almost caused a sailboat to sink.

The story begins in the afternoon on a Friday, with me and a boy whose name I cannot recall, sailing out onto the water without our instructor. Our goal was to maneuver the boat around three large orange buoys, and trying not to capsize the boat. After around three trips around the buoys, we unfortunately capsized. The wind had toppled our boat in the midst of a tack maneuver, and we flipped. I remember, even at the age of eleven, yelling "Shit!" as we flipped, and my comrade jumping quickly.

There was of course, the righting of the boat that had to be done, something we had practiced with great precision since our arrival at this camp. While my comrade would swim underneath the boat to the centerboard, I would stand on top of the boat to pull my weight on the board so the boat would flip. With the boat flipped, and the sail flapping in the increasing wind, we climbed back into the boat and began our track around the buoys again.

It was unforeseen what would happen next. It was something that no one had planned for, or even thought could happen. The line that controls the position of the sail relative to where the wind is blowing (to control speed) is called a main line. This line had wrapped itself around our rudder, so that in essence, we could not steer. Then the wind blew, and the boat raced uncontrolled towards anything in its path. It raced towards the large group of boats circling the buoys like vultures circling its dead prey. The boat, racing towards this group missed one boat, but hit another on the side. The impact caused us to stop for a moment, allowing my comrade to untangle the rope while I pushed our boat out of the gaping hole in the side of the other. Their boat was beginning to take on water, and both boats were called in by our instructors, who were slowly circling the other boats in a larger motor boat. We raced towards shore. I remember the lecture I received about what had happened by one of the camp counselors, and then the reassurance that "everything would be okay" by the head of the camp. It was a nasty hole in the side of the boat, and at eleven, I could not fathom the price that it would cost to repair.

Now I look back on that day and remember it in amusement. It was an accident, nothing more and nothing less. I could have done nothing at the time to prevent it. However, I look at myself now and think that this incident has taught me something to always carry on me when I think it is needed- a pocket knife. There is nothing a good knife canít cut, and at that particular moment in time, I wish I had one. But in reality, I do not kid or worry myself about such things, because they are only memories to be replayed again in my head on the days I need a good laugh. I am reminded though, of my sadness in not living close enough to the sea anymore, and a poem I used to read every day when I lived so close. I canít remember the author, but it goes a little something like this:

"I want to go down to the sea again,

to the shining sea and sky,

and all I ask is a tall ship

and a star to guide her by."

There were other events that summer, other bad happenings on the waters of Beaufort, South Carolina. But after that summer, I never attended the camp again. For a short while, I lost interest in sailing, until my father decided to buy a Sunfish of his own, and we both sailed off the Beach of Fripp Island, South Carolina. But now those days are gone, and the time spent now thinking of these memories is behind the haze of long nights and stale cigarettes. I have many regrets of that summer, and many summers that I wasted on not doing the things I wanted to do, not seeing the things I wanted to see. But I remember always that even with the time that I didnít use wisely, I learned something every day, and that every person I came into contact with had something new to teach me. Life isnít just about sailing camps or summer jobs; itís about the people you know and the ability to be happy. Every human goes through life, day in and day out, searching for a final truth- what is the meaning of life. Through the many summers I spent learning about people and life, the years I spent watching my parents marriage degrade and end in divorce, the two years I spent living in Huntsville, and the short time I have spent so far in college, I have learned that life is indeed about being happy. Everyone seeks happiness. Itís our goal in life, and once we stop being children and grow up and go to work, thatís all we ever seek. To be happy once again, like a child. What many donít realize though, is that they have the ability to be happy, but donít see through the haze of their own selfishness.

In our own individual experiences, we learn that sometimes happiness canít be achieved without sacrifice. In time, however, our happiness is achieved, and we can live life like we hope we always could. Others might not be as lucky, and might not achieve that final truth. I fear, that somewhat like my father, I will never find my true happiness. But, unlike my father I still have hope. I hope that one day, I will be like I was when I was eleven- sunburned from a day of sailing, truly content with my life and the way things were going. Sad when the coastal storms blew in from the sea, forcing the inevitable consequence of not being able to sail that day. Maybe one day, when I am older, I can achieve this long remembered but unobtainable happiness back, so that once again I can live like children do. I can live without a care in the world, not having to worry about money and bills and college. Living life like it was truly meant to be lived. Sailing away from the shores of my life out onto the water of the new, without a care in the world but for the ones I love and for myself. Remembering the lines of the poem with an author who I canít remember, obtaining the dream of the tall ship, and the star to guide her by.



"This is a wonderful story...is it based on an actual event? You know alot about sailing and that made this s fun piece to read. If you are planning on double majoring do it in English. You have a flare for writing...you can produce some great things if you stay at the craft. You have such wonderful potential." -- e. rocco caldwell.
"Yeah, I sailed a bit when I was younger, and it did actually happen. There were a few other 'adventures' on the water of sorts that summer, and the proceeding summers when my dad actually bought one of the tiny boats I learned to sail. thought I would "reply" to your questions. Thanks for the great review!" -- Kevin Myrick, Auburn, AL, USA.


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© 2003 Kevin Myrick
December 2003

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