03 January 2008

Why Am I Doing It?

I have a standard answer to why I'm doing the Pacific Cup. I need to cross an ocean when it gets warmer every day rather than colder. See, on my Eastward Atlantic crossing every day was colder than the last. By the end I was miserably cold. Going West in the Pacific, every day will be warmer than the last. If nothing else, you get to pack lighter.

But that's really not it. As I dive deeper and deeper into middle age, I've realized that many of my best stories are from sailing. And, believe it or not, I like to tell stories. Some of my trans-Atlantic stories are getting a bit stale; for example, my wife never ever wants to hear about the lone Clorox bottle again. With these ~14 days of warm-weather sailing, I can replenish my stock of anecdotes.

But that's not really it either. Making landfall is an incredible feeling. One that could possibly only be topped by leaving port. All three landfalls we made on the Trans-At were at the end of a really bad storm and the view of the inviting harbor was really really special and welcome. On top of that, one of the few out-of-body experiences I've ever had was leaving the Azores. I don't think I knew it at the time as I spent a lot of those hours intently watching the last sight of land, thinking it might be the last time I ever sail away like that. Oddly, my memory of the beginning of that leg is from a birds-eye view of the boat with Pico on one side Faial on the other. I, of course, was firmly planted in the cockpit and couldn't really have seen our boat from that vantage.

Unfortunately, that's not it either. In CS Lewis' "Out of the Silent Planet" trilogy, the second book is devoted to the idea of trying to recapture the taste of the perfect fruit. The book is actually about the idea that once the Original Sin happened, it couldn't be undone, but on the surface the message is that you can't recapture that taste, you just have to experience a new fruit and enjoy it for what it is. I can't recreate those incredible moments, I just have to prepare myself for the possibility of more, different ones.

That's getting really close to why I'm doing this trip. But I think the real reason is the Kids. I'm doing it for the Kids. All kidding aside, last year Camille's class asked for guest speakers to talk about travel. I went in and spoke about my transatlantic sail, brought in pictures and foul weather gear and the kids just ate it up. I want Camille and Noah to grow up thinking that adventure is good. That travel isn't a business class seat to London and a 4-star hotel. Travel is getting to know cultures, to take a risk and climb a mountain, to do something different than your day to day life.

And, of course, I really like to sail.


Anonymous said...

Inspiring post Edward. I envy you your crossings. One of my ambitions is to cross the Atlantic. In all practicality it won't be for a few years but I will do it.

Your point about the kids is so true. My 15 year old is becoming very responsible. He talks a lot about his plans for college, post grad, what career he should have.

Of course I encourage it but my strongest advice is to travel. Take time off before or after college and have some adventures. There's plenty of time for jobs and mortgages.

As the Scots say "You're a long time dead laddie"

Lonnie Bruner said...

Beautiful post. Thanks for that.

Anonymous said...

Inspiring post. You hit the nail on the head.

Good luck searching for a good yarn and thanks for the post.

Zen said...

Excellent Post, how true, how true!

Brendhan said...

I can assure you from experience that travel IS a business class ticket to London. Plus all the adventure stuff too.

Markitos said...

every once in a while ya stumble onto a cool site. Thanks for yours,
Im also a sea junkie and look forward to reading more of your adventures Markitos

Christy ~ Central Air said...

Congrats on the SSB mention today, Edward. :-) Great post.