There are five points of sail. The points of sail are determined by the angle at which the wind hits the sails. If the wind is blowing strait from 12:00 to 6:00 on the clock then sailing closest to the wind toward 1:30 would be CLOSE HAULED. 2:00-2:30 would be a CLOSE REACH. 3:00 would be a BEAM REACH. Approximately 4:00-500 would be a BROAD REACH. Toward 6:00 would be RUNNING. The fastest and perhaps the most thrilling point of sail is the BEAM REACH. During a beam reach, the wind hits the sails from a 90 degree angle to the direction of travel. If you were sailing towards 3:00 or 9:00 and the wind is blowing from 12:00 to 6:00, then you’d be sailing on a BEAM REACH. See the illustration above. When we consider that modern sails act as vertically positioned wings using their airfoil shapes to produce low pressure areas to propel the vessel then it is easier to understand why the beam reach is the fastest way to sail. Note the word easier rather than easy in the last statement. I do not imply that the factors that make sailing possible are easy to understand, nor do I claim to thoroughly understand everything that happens when sailing.
Sailing is a function of multiple factors in fluid dynamics coming together. There is a saying among those who study fluid dynamics, “Big whirls have little whirls that feed on their velocity, little whirls have lesser whirls and so on to viscosity.” This speaks to the impossibility of any system being 100% efficient. It seems that for any system that uses a source of energy to work, there must be dissipation of energy to cause imbalances in a physical system which seeks balance. So there goes our dreams of producing a 100% efficient system.
The combination of partly cloudy skies, temperatures between 55 degrees fahrenheit and 85 degrees fahrenheit, low humidity and rather strong but constant winds produces ideal conditions for sailing. Most sailors really enjoy sailing in such conditions. Rarely am I able to see a flag fully aloft in the wind on a beautiful day without considering how I might adjust my sails to capture the power of those winds.
Perfection comes in many forms, from cloudless skies to partly cloudy to overcast. I relish the many varieties of perfect sailing conditions. It’s very nice when my destination happens to coincide with winds that allow for a beam reach. Beam reaching is when the wind hits the vessel from 90 degrees to the direction of travel. Beam reaching is the fastest way to sail. Beam reaching directly toward one’s destination on a beautiful day. For what more could a sailer ask? Sometimes I will even go away from my destination just because the winds allow for a thrilling beam reach that does not happen to coincide with my goal. Sometimes my destination is actually determined by the thrill of the ride which is determined by how I might best catch the wind to obtain a beam reach.
Sometimes in life, we may find very exceedingly rare occurrences when our goals seem to be in perfect alignment with God’s will. To date, I do not feel that this has been my lot. When we are able to really know that we are moving and acting in God’s grace then we ought to thank Him and savor every moment of those most fortunate times.
In scripture we find the story of Joseph who endured years of affliction as a result of the bitterness and jealousy of his brothers as well as the false witness of Potiphar’s wife whom he had rightly rejected. It was only after patiently enduring these afflictions and maintaining his integrity and trusting in his God that Joseph was exalted to his high place in Egypt. Once exalted, Joseph continued to serve the God of Israel with all his heart. God’s grace was on Joseph and he was endowed with God’s wisdom. It appeared that everything was finally going in Joseph’s favor. Because of Joseph’s God-given wisdom, the people of Egypt were saved from starvation during years of famine and the government of Egypt amassed great wealth and lands. Through the actions and legacy of Joseph the nation of Israel was preserved and multiplied greatly.
I encourage you to read Genesis chapters 37-50 for the story of Joseph.
If you happen to find yourself in the place where it seems everything is going in your favor, continue to serve God with all your heart. Enjoy the season where and when you can sense God’s grace while there are no storms. Know also that conditions will change but God if faithful.
Lord Jesus we thank you for the extravagant grace that you show toward all humanity in that you have done everything necessary for the salvation of souls and abundant life. Your grace makes our circumstances favorable to our salvation and sanctification, even when we do not understand. We commit ourselves to your care and thank you for those times when we think things are going our way. We thank you for those times when things do not seem to go our way but actually help us to see our desperate need for you so that in reality we are blessed in difficulty. To the saving name of Lord Jesus Christ be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
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