Sailing in Nova Scotia's fog, I sometimes felt like the character William Hurt plays in that movie Altered States, when he uses a sensory-deprivation chamber like a fistful of psychedelic mushrooms to enter the weirder corners of his psyche. We'd go for hours, seeing nothing but variations of gray and the magenta blotches on the chart plotter, assurance from the radar that there was, indeed, another boat or a headland or a buoy or a something just a quarter of a mile away. Then, when we'd make our approaches inland, we'd emerge from the edge of that world like a diver parting the seam between air and water. Instantly, what wasn't there now was. So startling was this transition that you began to feel as though "out there" was a different planet entirely and that you'd spent the better part of the day in some sort of parallel universe. Out there, we'd wear hats, jackets, jeans, and sea boots, and the sense of the looming North Atlantic all around us defied season and time. As soon as we'd parted the wall and re-entered summer, we'd shed our clothes all over the cockpit and squint into the sun like moles emerging from some tunneled burrow, relieved to know that the world we'd left still existed.