Into the quiet

The silence of places like The Basin, on Vinalhaven Island, runs deep. Photo by David Buckman

Cruising under sail is one of the few places in life in which we can escape a world certain it has a right to be in our faces 24/7, to always be badgering us to buy stuff, act now, shape and share our views, to know our exact location, who our friends are, how many steps we take and do our thinking for us.

Coasting is a quiet, organic, private, slow, unpredictable, challenging and remote occupation. It’s just nature, the sea and us at some level. We call the shots, mostly, and decide what we need and don’t need. We choose our destinations, timing, route, and who we do business with. We are less guided by algorithms and insistent pinging and binging, than instinct, experience, optimism and the richness of life in the raw. While there are many positive things to be said about a state of connectiveness, it can be a distraction that has negative impact on the quality of cruising life.

Over the years, Leigh, and I – well, mostly I – have sought to minimize intrusion into our precious escape from the real world. While mobile phones, tablets and computers are useful devices, they can also add a layer of stress and fuzzy focus to cruising that diminishes the depth and wildness of one of the few moments in life where we can escape our usual state of hyper connectivity, know a few subtleties of nature and touch lightly upon the ancient and honorable art of seafaring.

While contact with loved ones is a good thing, there are times when the absence of it is every bit as desirable, which is less anti-social than practical. While there are a few circumstances in which we need to know about the daily circumstances of those close to us, there are times when it is static of a sort that keeps us from the quiet where we can connect to the great themes of life that we usually don’t have time for.

In the interest of balance – and balance is nearly everything – we have taken to quieting our electronic footprint, leaving our devices off a good bit of the time, and have not suffered a single negative side effect. Friends and family know this is our way. They respect the distance and understand that 24/7 communication has nothing to do with the quality of a relationship. In fact, our low-cal contact program during the cruising season seems to distill things positively.

We actively seek out solitude and quiet, and that’s a refreshing adventure within itself. There are still a generous number of places Downeast where we can be confident of our sole occupation. While such eel ruts may come at a higher cost in terms of investment of self and the unknown, they can deliver depths of wildness, excitement and insights that are well worth knowing, and we become the possessor of secrets, which are a powerful commodity.

Our cruises are not intruded upon by television or the news, either. Being unaware of various tragedies, outrages, scandals and celebrity gossip has never had the slightest negative impact upon our sailing adventures, and, if anything, has supported a more measured and thoughtful outlook on the real world. The quiet is a treasure that needs as much cultivating as any other positive aspect of life.

David Buckman sails a Folkboat out of Round Pond, Maine and has cruised as far east as Newfoundland.