Academically at least, I knew how Cormorant was meant to work, but in truth I had only ever sailed in a dinghy once or twice before, 25 years earlier. I had never rowed a boat either, so launching through the surf on my first outing may not have been the best idea. But June 4, 2007, was a gentle, warm day with little waves, and I wanted to establish my right to access the ocean just down the street from my house.
The ragged swell had calmed, but there were still good, three- to five-foot waves spinning along the cliff line at the point in the blue light of dawn. I pulled farther outside to get well clear of the surf, and Rudy and Aurelio buzzed past in their pangas with the other men, and we waved farewell to one another. I watched them until they disappeared seaward, the drone of the outboards getting fainter and fainter. I zipped my jacket up and settled back to pulling on the oars over the silky water, away from the last outpost of shelter and people.