Magazine article Black Enterprise

Sailing on the Chesapeake Bay

Magazine article Black Enterprise

Sailing on the Chesapeake Bay

Article excerpt

Anthropologist uncovers secret to relaxation

Anchored out on Virginia's Chesapeake Bay, there is only the soothing sound of waves breaking softly against the sailboat's hull and the cool caress of the breeze, says longtime sailor and anthropologist Dr. Michael L. Blakey. Sailing relaxes him from the rigors of teaching anthropology at universities around the world. Typically, Blakey puts in grueling hours as scientific director of the African Burial Ground Project and the W. Montague Cobb Biological Anthropology Laboratory at Howard University.

But for now the 47-year-old scientist is unwinding on board to the silky sounds of jazz, African and classical music. Occasionally a dolphin breaks the calm by swimming up for a closer look. "The entire boat becomes a speaker and the bay becomes the room, the theater, and the birds are marvelous!" he exclaims. Blakey has been recreational sailing since he was 13 and is the proud owner of a 19-foot "pocket cruiser" called the Sankofa. The name comes from an African maxim meaning "to look back to move forward." Blakey's sloop holds six people and sleeps four.

"Sailing is like meditation, combines a certain spirituality with science and sports. You also get a real physical workout," he explains. The process is pretty straight-forward. First, "fit out" the boat, checking it thoroughly. Next, listen to the weather report. Then hoist the sails or motor out. And finally sit at the tiller to steer the boat to your destination. …

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