Ann Dowd Sails Around New York Harbor

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The actress Ann Dowd stood straight-backed at the helm, arms gripping the wheel, eyes mounted on the green-grey-blue river unfold prior to her like a rumpled blanket. The Statue of Liberty beckoned just past.

“Everyone appears amazing powering the wheel of a sailboat,” Jonathan Horvath, the captain, claimed. “But some folks glimpse much more wonderful than some others.”

Ms. Dowd, 65, maybe most effective recognized for playing Aunt Lydia, a brutal enforcer of the theocracy on “The Handmaid’s Tale,” grew up boating. She and her 6 siblings spent summers at Lake Sunapee in New Hampshire, piloting motorboats and a Sunfish. They however collect there on weekends, although she insists that her siblings are all better sailors.

“This sister,” Ms. Dowd reported, pointing to herself. “I do not know what occurred there.”

Ms. Dowd, who lives in an condominium in Manhattan’s Chelsea community, thought it was time to improve, so on a modern Thursday early morning, she ventured down to TriBeCa for a lesson with Mr. Horvath and Eric Emerick, instructors at Atlantic Yachting.

She experienced dressed for a calmer working day, in a nautically striped, white-and-navy-blue costume with sequin specifics. But that morning, winds whipped down Pier 25 and thunderstorms threatened.

Mr. Horvath and Mr. Emerick led Ms. Dowd to the boat, a 38-foot one-mast sloop named the Vitamin Sea. Utilised largely for enjoyment-cruising the Bahamas, it sleeps 4 — six if you place some cushions on the dining table. The dock rocked in the wind. The boat, as Ms. Dowd clambered on, rocked, as well.

Mr. Emerick loosened the stern line and the bowline, then leapt aboard as Mr. Horvath steered into the river. Armed forces helicopters churned overhead, almost certainly simply because the United Nations Common Assembly was in session upriver.

Less than Mr. Horvath’s path, Ms. Dowd lifted the luffing sail, using a winch to pull the line restricted and then protected it. “Beautiful,” Mr. Horvath reported, encouraging her. “Well finished.” She questioned why they hadn’t lifted the sail all the way. It was mainly because the wind, which sometimes gusted to 30 knots, was too powerful. But if there’s a lady who can stare down a storm, it’s Ms. Dowd.

A longtime veteran of the Chicago stage, Ms. Dowd started scheduling greater roles in her 50s, as a credulous speedy foodstuff manager in “Compliance,” as a cult chief in “The Leftovers,” and as Aunt Lydia, the job which brought Ms. Dowd her 1st Emmy.

A compulsively type girls, she specializes in people who do cruel and awful factors — terrorizing females with cattle prods (“The Handmaid’s Tale”), conjuring demons (“Hereditary”). She does not recognize why casting administrators call on her to perform these terrifying women of all ages, why they under no circumstances see her for great moms, pleasurable grandmas, proficient surgeons.

“But I know I take pleasure in enjoying them,” she stated of her wicked people. “It is make-feel, and I simply cannot get to it quick enough.”

Her most recent tortured function is in “Mass,” an independent film that premieres on Oct. 8, in which she performs a gentler character, Linda, a church mouse of a woman reckoning with the hurt her son has induced and what responsibility she bears. She spends the film mainly listening, eyes sunken, mouth a wound.

As shortly as she study the script, she realized she required to play the part. But she hesitated, which was unusual for her. “How will I reside in this degree of grief?” she wondered.

So she did what she often does: she supplied a sort of prayer to the character. And Linda answered. “It was as nevertheless she had claimed to me, I bought this,” Ms. Dowd claimed. “There’s anything about that practical experience that was sacred.”

Profitable the Emmy four decades back has changed the arc of her profession fairly. She is now available roles, like the just one in “Mass,” relatively than owning to audition. But she nevertheless lives in the same Chelsea condominium where she raised her children, and her worry is nevertheless for the operate relatively than the trappings of celeb.

“My motivation is to retain it extremely easy. Due to the fact the do the job is normally the work,” she mentioned. “And which is the place the concentration should be.”

As the boat passed the Monetary District, Mr. Horvath invited her up to the helm the place she spun the wheel with a practiced hand. With the motor switched off, the boat cruised at 7 or 8 knots, heading out into the bay and towards the Statue of Liberty. But the moment the boat cleared Manhattan’s southern tip, the wind turned much better and the boat stated to a startling diploma. “Well, I’m going to make anyone seasick,” she explained.

The sailors organized Ms. Dowd to improve class. “Do you recall the name for turning into the wind?” Mr. Horvath questioned her.

“No, honey,” she stated.

It was tacking, he instructed her. Hand above hand she turned the wheel and the boat tacked, straightening in the water. Ms. Dowd sailed for the up coming hour, back and forth, carving a wake by way of New York Harbor, the downtown skyline guiding her. The h2o designed her truly feel, she claimed, “Entirely calm and intrigued.”

Still the wind stored gusting, increasing every time the boat handed Manhattan and navigated the much more open up waters of the Upper Bay.

“Yeah, there she is,” Mr. Horvath reported as a sturdy breeze slammed into the stern.

“There she is,” Mr. Emerick agreed.

“Why is it always she?” Ms. Dowd questioned.

“Because of the patriarchy, I’m absolutely sure,” Mr. Horvath said. “Sailors discuss about the wind as she. They discuss about the boats as she, almost like intimate interactions.”

The gusts never rattled Ms. Dowd, even though she did get worried when the occasional water taxi neared her. But she held her program, even through what Mr. Horvath termed “varsity-amount wind,” which despatched her skirt flapping like a 2nd sail.

When it was time to head back for the dock, Mr. Horvath experienced her steer powering a rubbish barge, zigzagging again and forth right up until she returned the boat to its moorings.

“Prepare to tack,” Ms. Dowd said as however she’d been saying it all of her existence. “We’re now tacking.” She had embraced the job of sailor completely. “Someone usually takes path definitely perfectly,” Mr. Horvath mentioned.