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Old 26-01-2013, 14:58   #1
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Why Sail?

I just recently came across an article that my Mother wrote after we returned from sailing the south Pacific the first time, in 1977, an it best articulates some of the emotion that moves me to be at sea as constantly as I can, until I can throw the lines off for good and making a port of call is a temporary proposition at best.


"Dear Debby and John,

Just ran across something I wrote down for you when
we got home to our boat from the party on your boat...
will type it so you can read it and send it on down.
“What do you like about cruising?” you asked,
and because the adults were drinking rum and coke
(pretty loud by then) and the kids were watching
Wonder Woman on tv, you had to ask me twice and I said
something about “ocean poetry” and passed it off
because there was no quick prepackaged answer and I
sensed that you wanted something beyond flip so then
we went home to our own boat and I sat in the cockpit
while declining reclining Orion told me it was almost
morning and started thinking about the answer which
really isn’t easy, even now, tied up for good in
Homer.
But if I had a chance to think it through and answer
slowly I would probably say...
“Well, it’s those four red lights that sit up there
on the top of that ridge and sometimes at night they
look disembodied... there’s no hill under them, only
two gently flashing lights against the black velvet
sky and two more steady and I’ll bet the guys who put
them up there don’t even know how artistic they were
when they arranged them that way, not square, angled
down.
“And it’s that crazy huge Scorpio I saw for the first
time over Motane in the Marquesas and for some reason
nobody appreciated me calling ‘all hands’ to roll out
of their warm berths and come topside to see a set of
stars. And another night, crossing from Tuomotus to
Tahiti I think it was, the Big Dipper and Scorpio and
Southern Cross bracketed the sky and I was so glad
that we didn’t have to lose all of the northern
constellations to gain the southern... it was like a
warm embrace from old buddies and new at the same
time.
“Debby, it’s the sound of the wind in the rigging
when it’s blowing a gale. It’s the look of the sails
full or flapping and the view of the mast light
through the aft hatch and the comfort of coming off
watch at 10, knowing you might be able to sleep until
4 and then take the sunrise watch. It’s the sunrise.
It’s the sunset. It’s the pile of determined looking
squall clouds marching with their heads bowed toward
you across the water that tell you to shorten sail.
“It’s the perfection of the sun doing a
follow-the-bouncing-ball routine as you try to perch
it on the fuzzy capricious line between sky and sea
with your sextant and the miracle of a couple of solid
sun sights telling you where you are.
“It’s telling the crew, ‘We should see Fatu Hiva
soon, off the port bow’ and Dale saying, ‘what if it’s
not there’ and me saying ‘I guess we’ll keep on
sailing.’ And the sweetest words in the English
language, Dan shouting down from the rigging, “LAND
HO!!!” 23 days out from San Diego , and the wonderment
that celestial navigation really does work, not that I
ever doubted it.
“And it’s the four little island kids doing the sexy
tamure on the quay in Takaroa, and it’s Denny trying
to tell us about the black Spanish ghost of Aratika,
and it’s the matriarch of the island giving us leis of
tiny orange shells, adopting us as she places them
around our necks. Tears streaming down all cheeks.
‘Me Tirone’s grama, me you grama. When you come back,
we have you house built.’
“It’s life on the quay in Papeete where yachts
cluster and swap crews and form a community like no
other because it floats. In. And away. Intensifying
relationships because you know you probably won’t see
each other again, so you tell each other you’ll see
each other down the way because otherwise partings
would be unbearable.
“And it’s the feeling you get when yachtsmen like
John come alongside in their dinghies before you even
get the hook down in a new anchorage to welcome you to
Pago and fill you in on a few basics that save you a
lot of time, effort and money ashore in a new place.
In fact the floating Pago community drew us in like
family and we have never felt more at home anywhere.”

That’s where I stopped, still thinking bitter
thoughts and shedding silent tears because we were
aborting our plans to sail around the world but
knowing that it wouldn’t be any good even if the kids
had voted with me. Dale wants to live on land. I
want to keep sailing. Maybe we can work it out."
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Old 26-01-2013, 15:10   #2
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Re: Why Sail?

Wow...

Mate, that's some terrific Mom you have!

Great post!

Jim
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Old 26-01-2013, 15:27   #3
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Re: Why Sail?

Why do I choose this lifestyle?

I blame my father.

He spent his entire working life leaving the house at 6.45 am to get the commuter train to London to spend all day in an office pushing bits of paper around. He would get home about 9.00 pm. He spent his Saturdays traipsing around clothes shops with my mother and Sundays mowing the lawn.

He dreamt of spending his retirement travelling to different countries. He talked about his plans, he looked at maps, he lived for his dream........and died 3 months before he retired.

Why wait until it's too late?

He died a rich man but he died an unhappy one.
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Old 26-01-2013, 17:53   #4
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Re: Why Sail?

Captain58Sailin, that was a truly beautiful article by your mother.
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Old 26-01-2013, 19:07   #5
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pirate Re: Why Sail?

Why Not.....?

Beautiful...
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Old 26-01-2013, 19:18   #6
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Re: Why Sail?

What a Lady with such an attachment to natural life
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Old 26-01-2013, 19:59   #7
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How fortunate you were to have a mom like that!?!
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Old 26-01-2013, 22:44   #8
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Re: Why Sail?

She is the best, and the best teacher, I'll ever have. She is still out traveling around, exploring and living life. An inspiration to me.
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Old 26-01-2013, 23:47   #9
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Re: Why Sail?

Nice piece, your mom is positive karma. Does Tom Bodett of Hotel 6 fame still call Homer home? I was visiting Homer in '93. Your town has the best chocolate covered berry jams I've ever had.
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Old 27-01-2013, 01:36   #10
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Re: Why Sail?

[QUOTE=georgehoskins;1140416]Why do I choose this lifestyle?

I blame my father.

He spent his entire working life leaving the house at 6.45 am to get the commuter train to London to spend all day in an office pushing bits of paper around. He would get home about 9.00 pm. He spent his Saturdays traipsing around clothes shops with my mother and Sundays mowing the lawn.

He dreamt of spending his retirement travelling to different countries. He talked about his plans, he looked at maps, he lived for his dream........and died 3 months before he retired.

Why wait until it's too late?



George,

You have it in a nutshell! Thankyou!!

So often the case is it not...life just slips by us all. I wonder where you are. No doubt you think of your dad often...I'm sure he is travelling with you!
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Old 27-01-2013, 09:43   #11
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Re: Why Sail?

I don't really know if Tom is still around. We used to run into each other now and then back in the day, but since he got famous and I started working offshore full time, I haven't see him. It's my fault, I've been at sea almost constantly since we got back from that trip.
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Old 27-01-2013, 09:55   #12
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Re: Why Sail?

Quote:
Originally Posted by captain58sailin View Post
I don't really know if Tom is still around. We used to run into each other now and then back in the day, but since he got famous and I started working offshore full time, I haven't see him. It's my fault, I've been at sea almost constantly since we got back from that trip.
I looked him up, looks like he has left Homer for a farm in the NE.
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Old 27-01-2013, 10:20   #13
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That was just beautiful! Thank you for sharing.
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Old 27-01-2013, 10:56   #14
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Re: Why Sail?

That sounds reasonable, we didn't really run in the same circles, I'm boat trash, and he was a carpenter, we would occaisionally bump shoulders in the bar, but did not hang together.
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Old 27-01-2013, 10:59   #15
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Re: Why Sail?

Thanks Captain Grandpa, Mom just sent that to me, it had been years since I read it and it still moves me. She did end up going back to sea with the boat and made several trips between Alaska and HI, and chartered in HI for several years.
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