I can scarcely believe tomorrow is the last night aboard Conversations. I have been aboard since September 2014 in Turkey, and Irena since early October. Since leaving Marmaris, on Oct 4th, Irena, ourvarious crew and I have sailed over 13,000 nautical miles. WOW!
In that 7 months we crossed the Mediterranean, the Atlantic, the Caribbean and a chunk of the Pacific Ocean. Tonight the boat tugs gently at her mooring lines in Kewalo Basin in Honolulu, but at this very nav station, day and night over the past 7 months I have hung on with my knees as we pounded to weather, sweated out the tropical heat of the equator – twice – and passed a 30 day, 4800 mile passage of the clipper ships from Galapagos to Hawaii. In all, over 100 days at sea.
How do I make sense of such a time, of the many, many countries and harbours along the way, the hours and hours alone on night watch, of the many meals and happy hours shared in the cockpit, the expectant departures and the safe landfalls, the storms and the calms, the heat and the cold, the wet and the dry, the breakages and the repairs, the laughter and the tears?
Firstly, it is with gratitude. To make it so far across the wild oceans and customs/immigration tar babies with everyone and everything intact is good fortune indeed. The truth of our survival, notwithstanding all the possible calamities that might have overtaken us, confound my feelings of unworthiness.
Second, it is with wonder. The world is so vast and we are so small. To pass safely over such vast stretches of open water, free and alive in life and will, is most fantastic and incredible. To experience so much of this magic kingdom has filled me with awe.
Third, it is with humility. In this sail, I have seen up close and personal how we are nurtured and sustained in life by the earth’s thin skin of habitable biosphere. That delicate wisp between land and ocean, surface and sky. I see more now how nothing could ever be more precious to us as living organisms. Yet, I see how I regarded it once with such indifference. I see how our civilization shows so few signs of waking to this unconsciousness and so many signs of callous disregard.
Let me take a moment to remember and thank all those wonderful friends and family that shared this journey with us:
Across the Mediterranean: Barb – Irena’s sister and Ellen a good friend – no easier going crew is there to be found anywhere.
Down the African coast to the Canary Islands: Anastasia – Irena’s niece – no more adventurous a spirit has been aboard.
Across the Atlantic from the Canaries to Antiqua: Lyle – my friend and music mentor – no more vigorous or committed a friend; Mitchel– resident music expert – No better music DJ ever sailed with us; Willie – Mr. fix it guy – no more handy a man has ever sailed (remember guys, if the girls don’t find you handsome, they better find you handy!).
Through the Caribbean:
Breanna – my daughter – no more loving and committed traveler has ever sailed with us.
Al and Leona – our dear friends – no more generous people live on the planet. At the risk of sounding faint of praise – because no land lubber will ever understand – we thank them for their gift of new heads (toilets) forward and aft. They are appreciated daily, even hourly!
Jenn, Anglin and Juna– Irena’s daughter and 2 grandsons. No greater kid energy can be found, for exploring, for learning to snorkel and spit out salt water, for soaking up all the boat ‘terminology and parts’; and no greater determination on Jenn’s part to give her children the experiences of a lifetime.
Michael and Hane – no more intense, rich and true friends could be found.
Panama to Galapagos: David and Sandey – no more personal and helpful conversationalists have ever sailed with us.
Galapagos to Hawaii: Dennis and Rita – our friends and compatriots in hard sailing and long passages; Trevor – no faster or determined learner ever sailed so far without complaint.
Know that we could not have made it so easily without your company and the richness you all bring to our lives and to our adventure. Thanks for joining.
Tomorrow is my 60th birthday. I had my 50thbirthday 10 days after we left Vancouver to start this trip. Yes, it’s been over 10 years that Irena and I have been on this adventure. What are the highlights?
Sailing the South Pacific twice – first in our first boat, the Westwind 35 sailing to Australia, then again in the Oyster Lightwave 48, our now “Conversations”. We LOVE the South Pacific!
Completing a circumnavigation – We didn’t set out to sail around the world, but we did. You might even say it was an ‘accidental circumnavigation’. We set out for Australia in our first boat – that was as far as our plans and our budget would take us. Who would have guessed? (We still have one passage left before we are home to Vancouver, but our circumnavigation is complete).
Working in Asia, based in Singapore – Our professional lives made a giant leap. This is not what we expected while sailing to Australia or around the world. We both now have global professional practices, very different from the Canadian ones we left with, and even though we will be living in Canada for a while, we expect to continue working internationally.
Working and living in Istanbul (Irena) and China (Cress): Being in Turkey, was the closest to living in Europe that we have had – and it was excellent. The food, the culture, the people were all amazing. Cress in China had an awesome work experience – so great that he is going back for another tour of duty!
Irena – the importance of family and friends – Over the 10 years of being ‘away’, I have grown to appreciate our good friends and family and have missed tremendously. From watching my grand-children, to having Sunday dinner with mum, to sharing meals and intimate conversations with our children and friends. It will be so good to be back home.
Cress – Global consciousness and concern – Exposure to so many countries, cultures, political systems, failing environments, etc. has really cultivated a hunger in me to understand how it works and how I can reconcile a personal life as an individual with my responsibility as a member of this global system. My new curiosity has me reading history, historical anthropology, politics, economics, and science fiction trying to find some answers for our teetering global circumstance. I persist despite the seeming futility of the challenge 😉
Let me end this blog entry on a thought to this last highlight:
Sailing around the world has been a visceral experience of the one-ness of our circumstance. I believe if we breathe the air and eat the food of this earth, we have a personal responsibility for its care – a ‘duty of care’, if you like. If we are conscious of this truth, the happy coincidence is this: working for the planet is working for our own wellbeing, not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually. If we are conscious, we will always feel out of integrity if our actions are out of accord with this duty of care.
So that’s where we start – creating consciousness. (This is probably not a surprise to most of you, but it’s a new learning at a new level for me, from sailing around the world!)