Every few minutes, the little schooner tacked. The lobster boat kept on course. Both headed into the same harbor, the same distance away. The schooner looked as though it was going to cover about twice the ground as the lobster boat. The wind and tide featured large in this equation. But, the tourists were unfamiliar with the coast and had thought that the schooner was taking its time. Lollygagging.
There is a story among sailors about a captain who grew sick of the sea. He determined to move someplace where the sea and his trade were unimaginable. The captain shouldered an anchor and started walking inland. He walked for months looking for a place where what he carried would be unrecognizable. At last, he came to a place where the locals looked in wonder at the anchor and asked what it was. There he dropped anchor and became a farmer. The captain told stories to his children of the tides in the Bay of Fundy, currents, long passages at sea, and the smell of the land when you were still a long distance from the shore. They knew their father didn’t lie, but grabbing hold of the reality without experience was impossible.
The visitors were experiencing the coast for the first time. They weren’t naive, nor were they poorly educated. It’s just that knowing something intellectually and witnessing it can be different.
We all traverse physical distances as we travel. But most of the pleasure of travel is traversing experience—the cultural, culinary, linguistic, adventures of a new place.
Or of watching schooners tacking on a bay.

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