"I thought we were going to head in," Jacob said, trying not to sound anxious.
"I thought we would head out and sail through the 'trickiest bit of sailing in the East,'" his father said, quoting Jacob's grandfather. His father gave a quick nod in the direction they were heading, and Jacob saw the corner of his mouth rise as he leaned down to pull in the mainsheet.
"What about your client and signing those papers?"
"Fuck it. Just fuck it."
Jacob waited for him to say more, but his father studied the luff in the canvas where the main joined the mast. "Winds like this don't come around every day." He narrowed his eyes, pulling in on the sheet and carefully adjusting the tiller. Jacob had never seen him look so determined. "We can make New Wagon Harbor in one tack."
Jacob wondered about his father's work -- if people would be left waiting in town and if they would be angry. Over the past months Jacob had heard conversations between his parents about his father's practice, and Jacob was not sure that everything was going well.
NEW Wagon Harbor, on the southern tip of a peninsula, was formed by three small, burly islands nestled close to shore. They sailed within ten yards of the mainland on the port side, trying to edge into the harbor without tacking again. Jacob could see the pale, sharp rocks below the tidal line, and the red keel that edged up toward the surface as they heeled over.
"How much room we got?" his father asked.
"You got it," Jacob answered.
They were inside the harbor, the mainland and dock to their left, the three islands to their right, and Jacob felt relieved. As if a hand had released its pressure on the mast, they tilted upright as the wind diminished behind the islands.
That wasn't the trickiest bit of sailing either. Now they were going to sail between the northern and eastern islands, where unmarked rocks spiked up from the bottom. Jacob thought the tide was too low, which was the only thing that had made his grandfather describe this reef as tricky. They simply needed to know where the rocks were and to go at the right tide.
"Our momentum will carry us until we can catch the wind again," his father said. "And I'll steer us around the rocks."
Jacob nodded, though he was doubtful. They couldn't see the rocks beneath the surface, but his father had sailed this many times before, with his own father and alone. Jacob didn't know how shallow it would be. The rollers crashed into the windward side of the islands, but the water in the harbor was calm.
"Pull the jib in,"his father said. Some wind would come around and they would heel, so they would draw less. That would help.
Jacob uncleated the jib and recleated it, but the maneuver was pointless -- the jib had been lashed too tight to begin with.
"Good." His father pulled in on the mainsheet, preparing for the wind. The tide was moving out, lowering every minute now. Several families were eating lunch on the pier outside the Lobster Shack. They stopped cracking their lobsters for a moment to stare at the red sails of the Sassanoa, gliding by from sheer momentum on the flat water. One of the youngest children leaped up when she saw the sails and raced toward the end of the pier. Her mother ran after, yelling the girl's name. The girl could have run off the end of the pier. She stopped at the last minute, though, and pointed at the red sails.