We watch from high on a cliff road as a sailboat releases itself from the island across the way and fights the wind until the right balance of sails is achieved. The wind coming off our little Greek island is notoriously difficult, and corkscrews down to the sea through deep valleys, clockwise and then anticlockwise, until sailors pull their hair out, and their kids hide down below.
      The boat is a sloop, and looks to be about forty-two feet, and she sure as hell is well-captained. Most sailors drop all their canvas at the very sight of this passage and hope the engine doesn’t fail. But the captain of this boat knows what he’s doing, and plays with the sails, even as the vessel is threatening to broach. He gets it right, like a singer hitting one of those notes. The foresail furls down to the size of a little pennant, and the main winds itself into the mast until the balance is struck just right, and the boat settles in for the passage.
      From our vantage point, we watch as he does it just right. There are whorls and eddies and wind-caused current, and gusts strong enough to shock the mast with their suddenness, but the artist at the helm of the boat does it all as if following the textbook – up on the puffs, down on the lulls, but on a breathtaking scale.
      The Aegean is a blue that makes my Vancouver home-port waters look tentative. This blue has had centuries of civilization to improve itself, poets to give it spit shine, sculptors to adorn its shores, and wooden boats to grace it with colours an artist would choose if he only knew of them beforehand.

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