A fellow sailing blogger was talking recently about his dream of sailing to Japan. I had the good fortune of crossing an ocean before getting to the point in life that I dreamed about it. I'd call it more of an opportunity. Now, I just dream about getting to spend more than a few hours out on the water.
But it got me thinking about the people that I met on my transatlantic. It was probably about 45% opportunistic young people taking advantage of the chance to sail, about 50% retired couples in their comfortable 40+ foot center cockpitters, and the 5% lunatic fringe. It's the lunatic fringe I remember best.
The hippies in Horta (the other hippies) who walked barefoot up to the remote towns on Pico and talked us into badgering the fishing boats for free fish, the hippies who sailed the 19 foot duct tape and chewing gum sloop (and fought the norwegians), and, my absolute favorite, Jeremy, a Scottish kid who commuted from the Mediterranean to the Carribean and back every year with any delivery captain who would take him.
This kid had the best stories. Since the boat they were delivering didn't have any electronics, they had to rely on old wives' tales to determine the weather. The captain would stand on the bow every morning, wave his hands in intricate patterns and recite strange poems that would somehow tell him about the weather. This worked all the way to Bermuda. After Bermuda, it seemed to attract storms if you believe the stories of the six gales they somehow floundered into on the way to Cork.
We had met him in Horta and recognized him as he was walking by the yacht club in Cork so we called him in. While drinking coffee in this very civilized club, he began re-enacting every single gale complete with spilled coffee somehow explaining a particularly severe pooping (yep, Brendhan my friend, that's a nautical term). Somehow after that short conversation they realized that the Cocunut Grove Yacht Club didn't actually have reciprocal membership and we didn't return.
None of the people who had spent years dreaming about this trip and meticulously saving and preparing boats made much of an impression. There was something about those who took off before they were ready and just made it happen that captured my attention. They were the adventurers and I can't help but feel that they got more out of the trip than most of us.