* The Straight & Narrow

images“When you turn the wheel right, the boat goes right” he said patiently. “Think of it as driving a car.”

“It’s not at all like driving a car. And it’s STARBOARD, not right,” she snapped back. “I KNOW how to STEER a boat with a tiller, just not a fancy schmancy “yacht” with a wheel.”

“Well, then try STEERING to a compass heading. Follow the chartplotter course and keep it on the straight and narrow,” he suggested.

“Straight and narrow? This is the Pacific Ocean,  not the friggin’ Pacific Coast Highway! Take it, I’m done.”

“Fine. Then be a love and fetch those little sandwiches and bring me a coldie,” he answered, taking the helm.

“What the fuck?! I’m not some submissive little woman! Get it yourself!” she retorted, heading to the bow of the boat.

His hearty laughter stopped her in her tracks and she turned to glare at her friend.

“Bree, you know that newer boats, especially over 30 feet, have wheels not tillers. If you really want to find a boat to solo-sail to Hawaii you have to be open to a wheel. You’ll learn. Come back and play with it and I’ll get the lunch.”

“I’m sorry, I’ll give it another try. And light mayor for me, please,” she joked, stepping back into the cockpit.

Brianna trial-sailed five boats, ranging from 35 to 42 feet and all no more than 10 years old. When she reviewed her courseline on the chartplotter at the end of the last outing, it looked like she had sailed drunk, with a squiggly line from beginning to end. And none FELT right.

She was skeptical as she walked down the dock to check out yet another boat. This one was was only 32 feet and built in 1982, but was designed by her favorite naval architect, Robert Harris. The previous owners had sailed to the Galapagos and back and bought a bigger boat to circumnavigate so were anxious to sell this one.

The broker backed it out, reviewed the basics, and then turned it over to Brianna, offering to line-handle so she could get to know the boat. They raised sails and the cutter-rigged sloop heeled gracefully, skipping over the waves.

Brianna glanced at the screen to track their course. Electronics would be a necessity on the open ocean with no landmarks to steer by. But here on the Bay she found them distracting, preferring to trust the feel of the wind and water and her instincts. She closed her eyes and felt the pull of the boat under her hands. She steered towards starboard and the boat responded by slightly turning towards port, then leaping forward. She sailed like this for a few minutes, then looked at the chartplotter. A perfectly straight tracking line. Brianna smiled.

“Now THIS is how to do straight and narrow. Old girl, we’re going to Hawaii with a tiller.”


Written for the To Live and Write in Alameda 2019 “Flash Lit February” Challenge #8. We had three days to write a poem or short story (of 500 words or less) or draw a piece of art to the theme “The Straight and Narrow” and submit. 


You might notice a link in the story … I’m adding my own stretch goal into each of these challenges by incorporating a link to one of my #TinyKitchen recipes posted on VivoOSonho.com in the storyline. This one is Lavash Bites, easy to eat when underway!

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s