We’re on our way west, out of Baton Rouge, this morning. We’re going sailing!
Realizing that a drive across Texas is halfway across the continental USA, we decide to take a break at the tourist info center after crossing the border.
We put on clothing in the parking lot and walk around the back to the gateway and into chilling air-conditioning.
The big room is loaded with tall rows of brochures and maps. We’ll have a long drive and we’re looking for fun stops along the way. This is like a library.
We try out the restrooms, before having a machine eat my two futile attempts at a plastic bottle of Coca-Cola. When I inquire at the big desk manned by two ladies, which appear to have spent quite a bit of idyll time together, I am met with an astonished, “way-a-oh.” Texans often need to enunciate all vowels in every word, but these two presented authenticity by actually adding extra vowels to “wow.”
Genuine and friendly, that’s how I like my Texans.
We find ourselves being lead down a new highway along the gulf coast.
Amazon is building a huge distribution complex along with other huge boxes of corporate commerce. It’s a nice highway, but all of it is nearly empty. They don’t seem to be using it. The parking lots are empty. I suppose that it is a story about corporate and government meld. It appears to be another wasteful fiasco that nets short term profit for somebody of influence with promises.
We eventually make our way to our friend’s sarong clad greetings. The place reminds me of Malibu before the big money. It has the air of an Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon beach house.
It is up on stilts. We gather at ground level, which is a converted parking area under the main building. After a few hugs like long lost friends, clothing is dropping off and coming to rest. It is casually slung over chairs, and whatever. I have a seat on the kilt that I wrapped around me to walk the driveway.
Our friend Safebare (his internet handle) is an old hand at free range naturism, stealth and generally being nude anyway, wherever possible. We met through FreeRangeNaturism.com several years ago. We met up with them in the flesh in Zipolite, just before covid in 2020. We have had some fun together, as kindred spirits.
He has all of the visual angles set and knows exactly where he can comport naked without being exposed to anyone’s other sensibilities. A carefully placed car, a post, a green tarp covering something, bushes and stairs, all function as a privacy fence. He knows when the neighbors are around, and their attitudes. So, nudity is working out here, on the open suburban patio, which is shaded by the house above.
Across a lawn of that thick green Florida style grass, is a dock with a sailboat in waiting. This is on a canal that leads out to Galveston Bay.
I had a twenty foot boat docked at Jack London Square for the San Francisco Bay, back in the nineteen seventies. Since then, Arizona has made my sailing knowledge rusty. I decided to bring along a sailing “how too” book on the trip to brush up. DF, who has never sailed, or been on many boats, has been learning sea language like,” starboard, stern, bow, port” and some basics during our trip, in anticipation.
I’m excited about this opportunity. There isn’t much sailing in Arizona and I used to love it so. As we sit in the afternoon breeze, Safebare offers to” take ‘er out, now.” No arm twisting required. He says that the conditions are excellent today, right now. It’s like someone yelled, “surf’s up!” I’ve been ready for years.
DF walks out to the dock in merely Bikini bottoms, we in kilts. One thing got established by Safebare early, “Texas is Topfree.” He explains that there are no laws against, except maybe something trumped up and erroneous. DF is wholly on board to try it out. Without her even saying so, I can see that she is relaxed in a lack of worry and feeling liberated.
We get acquainted with the boat. We note how slippery it is with bare feet. We get our sea legs acquainted with the less stable roll.
Safebare takes the rudder and starts the motor. He immediately shows his familiarity with the boat and canal. He masterfully maneuvers us away on the calm water.
Everything seems better naked and boating is certainly better. Just to get out on the sea on sail is an exciting, sensual freedom. The added nudity augments the sense of nature and liberation. We are in the cockpit, so our lower bodies are concealed for the most part. The boat sits low, but who’s actually looking?
We motor through the fishing boats, then into the larger body of water.
The wait to set sails is a surprisingly long time. The area is very shallow. I don’t know if the tide is in or out.
We eventually hoist the mainsail and also jib.
Our host takes us out past dozens of pilings. Each one has a seabird, generally a pelican, perched on the tip of the posts.
The sky and water is blue in this strange world without mountains. What we call Doctor Seuss clouds float all around, making strange imaginary creatures.
There are plenty of landmarks to be seen. Safebare points out the important ones that he uses to navigate. We tune into his world. There is a building on one of the points and the first bearing is on an oil rig.
I’m grinning, feeling the wind all over my body. There is a groan coming from the boat. It happens with every passing wave. It is the grind of the keel. It happens when the wind hits at a more optimum. You know when you’ve got the wind. You can hear it when things are perfect.
Soon, I am placed at the helm, a rudder stick off the stern.
Oh boy, how very rusty I am. However, memory floods into me, when I have that feeling that I don’t know what I am doing. I’m alert to this like a wholly new experience. I’m relearning and remembering.
I love the waves, I love reading them. I used to love being captain trolling in a fishing boat, smoothing out any jerks in a fishing line, rocking and ebb. I begin to open the creaky drawer that has stored my sailing experience for decades. An inward voice tells me, “There is a rhythm to the waves, they need to be hit just so.” In the sailboat, so does the wind.
I fall into the groove, the pocket, the rhythm. I feel it. I hear it, know it in a distant memory, and I love this so. I’ve fallen in love with it all, again.
The terrain is flat, there are huge signs of industrial projects along the coast. The business has lots to do with energy. I’m instructed to use a distant flame for a bearing. Out on the coast is a tower, burning, processing gas. It reminds me of flames of the Tower of Mordor. It replaces any need for a lighthouse.
I would do this until I drop. With reluctance, I bow to the desire that DF has a positive sailing experience. She is to get her turn to steer. She does well. Her expressions tell me that she is all in.
I call out “Just don’t hit the buoy!” and I smile.
It is a perfect mellow day, but the boys are yelling tales of high seas and being strapped down in a bunk, just riding it out. Safebare goes on about 20 foot swells in a twenty foot boat.
There is a desire voiced by the boys to go faster, but one of us, one with experience, has a sense of the peril of that. I have no need for the excitement that a sailboat tends to call out for, that desire to be tilted on an edge. I am still fully enamored with the gentle natural in nature feel of it all.
We arrive in the canal in that special light and long shadows of the coming sunset.
DF is ever ready and takes to the duties, helping to wrap the sails. She is still also relishing her top freedom. A car drives by twice out on the road. She enjoys her empowerment, minding her own business. Boys are lucky in their rules. Now, so is she.
We head out to a seafood dinner. It looks popular, a newer place. My compadres reminisce, reminded by the Mojitos that they drank in Zipolite.
Dinner is outlandish. My bowl of gumbo is just a cup of seafood gravy, more like flat menudo. The fish is cold. They forgot my oysters. My asparagus consist of six dried out sticks caked with grill muck at $1.25 apiece, and then they want a 20% tip! The place is all show with no substance. I’ve forgotten the name.
Returning to the house, we go upstairs to sit in the dim light on the wooden deck. The railing, lighting and quiet in the neighborhood assure us that there is no need for clothing. There is a wonderful light breeze. I enjoy a chilled Pellegrino and the company.
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