Sailing and Surfing over the Waves


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Being out on the ocean last night brought back memories of a night sail a few years ago.



This is what I wrote then:

“The waves behind the boat first lifted the stern and then begin lifting the keel.

When the waves moved under the bow, the whole boat began to rock and slide down through the waves!

It was so fun and exhilarating.”

Wow! That’s exactly how I felt last night out at sea.

Sail surfing pic IMG_0526

Here’s more of the story:

“Being on the water suddenly brings a peace over my mind.

There’s something about it! The beauty of the wind on the water and the ripples over its face, perform an amazing miracle in your heart and take you away from the day to day stress that builds up.

Suddenly all that matters now is solving little problems like where you will turn the boat next!


I turned and tacked to the left (port side) and the sails luffed as it lost wind. As the boat changed direction, the wind caught the sails in the ‘wrong direction’ and they back-winded. The wind, being in the sails the wrong way, put pressure on the sails and the boat completed the turn. Simultaneously, when the pressure reached its highest point in the sails, I let go of the ropes that held the sail and pulled the opposite ones in. Now with the sails pulled in on the right direction the boat took off. The timing of all this is was a graceful thing to watch and participate in.


Tacking out of the first inlet, I came to the larger body of water – the main channel. Here the sun was just over the horizon but it was still strong and bright at least half an hour before sunset. I put my sunglasses on as the rays of the sun were often in my face as I came up into the wind and tacked again.

By sunset I had made it to the last stretch of the harbor and a sweet double masted boat with a gaff rig sail (like a boat from the early 1900’s) greeted me.

I took three pictures of it as it passed by in the orange afterglow.



sunset sail pic IMG_0523

I was getting thirsty so I remembered my Dr Pepper and thought how nice that would go with my chicken sandwich. But when I got the Dr Pepper out, it was warm, so I put it in the cockpit for the wind to chill it.

The wind was starting to chill me too so I put on my windbreaker, but later went for my scarf and gloves also. Even though October in Southern California is still warm, you wouldn’t know it being out on the water!

The afterglow faded with amazing deep reds and maroons, so that the sky was almost crimson.

Out at sea, the sky was so clear and clean, you can see the lights on the mountains some twenty to thirty miles away!

The wind was blowing from the south east that evening. It made sailing easier as I didn’t have to tack much and could just head right out to sea.


After a time of cutting through the swells and enjoying the motion of being lifted by the waves, I turned back towards home.

sailing at night creative pic IMG_0525
After tacking around, I notice that the waves were behind me and the wind – which usually was also behind me – was coming from the beach instead. This was really great news because I could now bring my sails in real tight on a close reach and balance the boat really easily.
This meant that I could sit on the bow pulpit without having to worry about steering and watch the boat surf the waves all by itself.

So I put on my life jacket and maneuvered on hands and knees over the moving cabin top to the bow rail and sat down.

I held on tight to the grip rope. The waves behind the boat first lift the stern and then begin lifting the keel.

When the wave moved under the bow, the whole boat began to rock and slide down through the waves! It was so fun and exhilarating.

Suddenly I then noticed that the deck was flooded with bright white moonlight!

I looked up into the dark sky and saw a full moon shining down on me. Often the night was very dark at sea and the stars and few lights on shore were all you can see. To have the moonlight, the wind and waves all in my favor was beautiful.
When I came back in the harbor, I sailed home with the wind on my back and also noticed I had a cold Dr Pepper now to enjoy!
See the full story from my blog “Sail Surfing in the Moonlight” from Oct 16 2011 here

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Thanks for your comments!


~Albie Derbyshire


cell: 626-379-5692

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