Posted on July 17, 2015
We slurped the Dom Perignon when we made landfall in the Azores. 2000 Miles in a 44 foot sailboat can be just the thing.
40 knot winds, 30 foot seas, violent storms. 15 days of standing a 3 hour watch every 6 hours. Dolphins, Sea Turtles and whales were our companions. Steering the boat, at an hour well past midnight, to Cassiopeia. The big W in the stars. The Milky Way. First light on the mid-morning watch. We were a lonely spot of humanity surrounded by a thousand mile disc of sea. It is difficult to describe the intensity of a transatlantic passage. The levels of fear, joy and immense contentment are not often felt ashore. Even the ordinary things become more pronounced on a transatlantic. Instant coffee is just wonderful, an hour in the rack is so refreshing and every meal deserves a Michelin rating.
The Captain selected a crew with a high degree of compatibility and positive attitude. This meant that unkind or inconsiderate behaviors, even in tight quarters, never occurred. The mean girls (and Boys) stayed home.
The opportunity to work with some of the finest people I have known, in conditions of great danger, at worst, and significant discomfort at best was a lot more than I had hoped for. The expert seamanship and leadership of Captain Philip made the passage both possible and safe.
We met other sailors, and share an instant kinship with them due to our common relation of love and fear with the sea.
We met a Danish cruising couple at Horta. They had a rugged 40 foot boat. A red hull named Pi. They had been sailing a double circumnavigation including Cape Horn for 7 years. They were both in their mid-seventies. The woman had clear blue eyes and the easy grace of a long time sailor. The older lady said “We are sailing back to Denmark, we have a little flat outside Copenhagen” Then she sobbed “What will I do There?”
I felt bad that I had no answer. No half-time speech of encouragement. I envisioned the cramped senior citizens apartment and the relentless clock and calendar. In retrospect, I know she will do what sailors have always done. She will work to improve the situation around her, encourage the people in her life and still have fond memories of the roaring forties and the blue water.
But for me, it is back to life on terra firma. Sailing aboard Tioga was far more than an outdoor adventure. I begin again with a renewed sense of vigor and purpose in all aspects of life. I am graced with a renewed appreciation for my wife Candace, son Christopher. And daughter Virginia and Sister Virginia. I thank them for their prayers and encouragement. God bless and safe travels to the ongoing Tioga crew. I will now count the days of how many, plus a wake–up until I am back on board.
July 14, 2015