Yesterday after lunch I pedaled to Charlestown and locked my bike to the railing that surrounds Pier 4. Usually I am focused on not dropping my lock into the sea, but this time I was distracted because my view of the water was blocked by an angular wall of cold gray steel. At first I thought the Navy had moved the USS Cassin Young, but then I spotted modern phased-array radars and, to my surprise, the flag of Norway. This was the hull of the imposing HNoMS Roald Amundsen. Why would a 440 foot Norwegian Navy frigate tie up alongside my sailing center? I don’t know, but there is a sandwich shop nearby that makes a very good panini. Anyway, the sailor standing guard seemed unperturbed by the threat of a bicycle merely 20 feet from his warship, so I chalked this up as another Boston first and moved on.

Having completed by Basic Keelboat certification last week, I was anxious to set off on my first truly singlehanded sail in Boston Harbor. The experience brought me back to that weird rite of passage for many 16-year-olds, driving solo on the highway for the first time. The parallels are striking. Situational awareness consumes an ample portion of my attention. Developing a subconscious feel for the boat’s response to various inputs is a priority. Periods of heavy traffic can be stressful. Catching gusts while sailing close-hauled can still make me jittery. And I have a strong urge to pile all my friends into the boat and go for a joyride. Some things never change.

A few things are making this experience great: the unshakable confidence of the sailing center staff, being a quick learner, beautiful weather, and the magnificent view of the city from the water.