The Flow State of Sail Passages

The Flow State of Sail Passages

One of the best things about publishing Escape from the Ordinary has been connecting with readers at talks, book club discussions and my website. One reader asked, Don’t you get really bored on sailing passages?

Wave watching meditation

I loved long passages—21 days seemed our magic number for the three longest. Some of what kept me busy I described in my book; watch keeping, napping, reading and the fact that even simple cooking and cleaning tasks take longer on a boat. But there is one thing that I did not include, and I wonder if any other sailors out there have the same experience.  Glen and I used to talk about how time seemed to be slippery on long passages.  I could spend hours sitting on the mizzen deck in the shade of the sail, mesmerized by the waves or even the pink squid on the fishing line dragging through the water off the stern.

The closest thing I ever came close to that “flow state” on the boat was when I ran in formation in the Army.  Maybe it was singing in cadence or moving in unison with others, but the running was effortless, almost like floating, and miles slipped away.  That kind of mental state felt too right brain to discuss with my mostly male Army buddies, so not sure if that was a common feeling.

It was true for both Glen and me on our boat.  Maybe I did it so often that watching the waves became a trigger for the thinking part of my brain to disengage. A way for my mind to take a break.  I was focused on the waves, but not really thinking about anything.  It was a pleasurable experience and when it was time to get up and do something else, I felt happier for that private time.  If what was happening on board allowed, I would write in my journal with renewed inner clarity.  Perhaps it was a form of meditation which I try to do these days as a ten-minute break from writing.  But there is no trigger up in my writing loft like there was on the boat and sometimes those 10-minute meditations don’t come easily. This is a long answer to a reader who asked if I got bored or time moved slower on a sailing passage. For me the opposite was true, and often I was not quite psychologically ready to make landfall when we neared our destination.  Has that flow state been true for you?