Through the Looking Glass

Midwinter 2007

By Dodge Morgan

Voice No. 1: “You look like an old sailor.” Voice No. 2: “I am that, especially the old part, but you look like you are in costume, just dressed up as an old sailor.”

No. 1: “Let us talk sailing anyway. Are you good at sailing?”

No. 2: “I am quite good at it when no one else is watching. I am also much more proficient with no one else there because the story told afterwards is mine alone to tell.”

No. 1: “Like when you admitted to your son that the older you get the faster you used to run? Are you a more precise sailor when alone?”

No. 2: “Real precision in sailing is an abstract myth just as ‘everything is under control’ is a weird concept.”

No. 1: “Don’t you get a laugh when a sailor puts the quest for precision above results? Like the command to trim the main sheet an inch when the boom is flying around like a ping-pong ball in a wind storm.”

No. 2: “Hee-hee-hee. I also fail to understand the sailor who is terribly upset when a piece of equipment fails to perform to an ideal rather then being happily amazed when one works at all. And I do find it very humorous when a 10-million-dollar boat in a 50-million-dollar campaign to win an ugly silver cup breaks in half sailing over a two-foot chop. Or when it takes 16 overweight guys sitting with their huge legs over the rail to keep a 70-footer upright on a beat. Or when a new boat design ends up being more stable upside down than right side up.”

No. 1: “That last one is definitely not funny. Tell me, how many sea miles have you sailed?”

No. 2: “Crowding on 200,000 of them.”

No. 1: “You must have you improved your sailing skills with all those miles.”

No. 2: “Very much improvement during the first 10 of those miles, not much since, excepting for an ever-deeper understanding of how to cope. Now there’s a concept I can identify with; yes, how to cope may be the core sailing skill.”

No. 1: “Are you a racing sailor?”

No. 2: “Only with myself. I get nervous when in the close company of boats traveling faster then I am.”

No. 1: “Most likely the fault of your boat, don’t you think.”

No. 2: “Oh, with certainty.”

No. 1: “There is a saying used by honest sailors, ‘I am still trying to find my own ass with both hands . . . .’”

No. 2: “Is that not self sexual harassment?”

No. 1: “This has been a very satisfying conversation as we appear to agree on nearly everything discussed.”

No. 2: “Maybe you should try a new costume. Maybe I will try to learn from sailors who believe in the quest for precision and manage to sail better as a result. Maybe I will find a race with other slow boats – or maybe find a race with no finish line but with the winner being the one who quits last. Maybe I will form an international organization dedicated to eliminate self-harassment.

No. 1: “Maybe I will smash this mirror.”

A resident of Snow Island in Harpswell, Maine, Dodge Morgan honed the fine art of provocative conversation during his singlehanded, nonstop circumnavigation aboard American Promise in 1985-86.