Sailing by Ash Breeze

I wanted to share another book that I really enjoyed reading with my children. This particular title, Carry On Mr. Bowditch, is a biography of young Nathaniel Bowditch, a bright boy who was forced into indentured servitude due to his family’s poor financial situation. He had dreamed of attending college, but his circumstances would not allow for that. A man who worked at the chandlery with Nathaniel described him as “becalmed” – like a sailboat that cannot make progress for lack of wind. Nathaniel, however, refused to allow himself to be stopped by circumstances that were out of his control. Instead of giving up his dream of further learning, he decided to study on his own at night. He taught himself Latin, physics, mathematics – anything that he was interested in. This bright boy grew into a brilliant man, all as an indentured servant. This in itself would understandably appeal to me. As a homeschooling mother, I value examples of successful self-directed learners.

My absolute favorite thing from this book, though, is the idea of sailing by ash breeze. When becalmed, the sailor must use his own power and row the boat. The oars were commonly made of ash wood. Ash breeze.

It is true that life can throw any variety of obstacles in our paths. Sometimes we feel quite stuck. As stuck as a becalmed sailboat. However, with determination and hard work, we can keep moving using our own power.

The next time I feel stuck, I will consider what is in my power to do, rather than dwell on what is out of my control. Sail by ash breeze.


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