When I'm on a tall-ship and the wind's honking in, the sea is dead behind us and the ship is pitching and rolling. Water is coming over the side, & the bowsprit's almost underwater. The ship is 100ft long and is behaving like a surfboard. The skipper calls to wear ship (turn around) and we all run to our stations. The manouvre begins and we are all standing on the rolling deck, holding whatever we can find to prevent ourselves falling overboard. We are drenched, spray is soaking us through our wet-weather gear and the wind is stinging our faces. As the ship comes around the sailing master tells us to haul in on the headsail. Ten of us are standing there in a line, hands on the rope, feet braced against the side of the ship, the deck is sloping at a 45 degree angle. We are hauling with all our strength, the way things used to be - no winches, just human strength and endurance.
There is something beautiful and majestic about that kind of sailing, as well as it being exhilarating. When ever I'm near the ocean I feel alive, but instances like this are the best of all. I live to sail, and sailing like that is just phenomenal.
Another sailing incident that made me feel particularly alive - climbing the 30 metre mast of a square-rigged tall-ship in the middle of the night while sailing through the Bass Strait. The wind was 35 knots (approx 65km/hr) and the ship was surfing. The cool night air on my face & the feeling as I made my way out on the yard-arm - to me, that is living.