Saltwater and Stars

“We all operate in our society in relation to a system
Now is the system going to eat you up?
And relieve you of your humanity?
Or are you going to be able to use the system for human purposes?” — Joseph Campbell

I was invited. So I went.  It was the week before Christ’s birthday celebration, just 3 weeks ago. We were a few hours shy of 6 days on the calm December waters of the Gulf of Mexico off the Florida Coast. We began as 3, with the Captain, Bart B., and Jenn O. and myself. On the third day we picked up crew number 4, Tess L. off the beach near Captiva Island.

“Revival” is a 25′ 7″ Pearson Ariel, Hull #50, circa 1964. She is a very capable boat, with a medium draft (44″) full keel and no motor. Bart is an extremely capable sailor and prefers not to have to rely on one. He has no trouble getting into the dock under sail, which is the only time most sailors use their motor.  She is weathered, and it shows in a number of places. Bart is not a wealthy man, being an independent contract teacher, and is not able to afford to keep her in the best of shape, but he cleans her hull of barnacles himself on a regular basis, in the water. He is a very rare individual, a true outdoorsman/adventurer by trade and inclination, and also one of the most generous men I have ever met. He is comfortable with his boat and makes up for what he doesn’t do by doing what he can do, and that is sail well.

I myself was comfortable most of the time, perhaps surprisingly so. Nonetheless there were a few times when I was not. For instance, I am a good swimmer, and quite comfortable in the ocean when it is calm.  If during the course of my crew duties I had fallen overboard I would have been fine as the seas were so calm on this trip. I did get in the water on 2 occasions. The first time was when we were becalmed and it was hot and I needed to pee anyways so I jumped in. Unfortunately I found I was not strong enough in my upper body to heave myself back on board without aid from Bart.

That was my first clue. On a long ocean voyage I must be able to do that. There were many others by the time the trip was over.

In the end I decided that going around the world with Bart would not be a good idea for either of us. He needs someone with more experience then I have (which after the just completed trip is now a bit more then none). Someone as capable as he is to handle “Revival” in the inevitable big storms and unknown shoal waters that will be a part of his around the world voyage which he will begin later this year.

The good news: Bart gave me something I can not ever repay him for: I saw the stars, on the open ocean, far from land. Who would have guessed it would come to me so soon after my last post?

Author: RJMS

1 thought on “Saltwater and Stars

  1. Hey Bob, some beautiful writing here! Sounds like your life is full of discovery! Although I understand why the round-the-world sailing trip isn’t going to happen for you, that you considered it is remarkable. Next time! Don B.

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