I want to cross an ocean.
I didn’t come by this sailor’s life on purpose. I am the “Accidental Sailor,” forced into sailing lessons by my parents and reengaged as an adult solely as a way to get out of the city and onto the water. Then Blue Moon came into my life, and in three short years, I went from the “least willing member ever” of the Blue Water Society at the Manhattan Sailing Club to the First Mate who after 13 days at sea didn’t want to make landfall in New York City.
I’ve got it bad.
There are a lot of things I love about passage making (that’s what we sailors call multiple-day sails for the purpose of getting somewhere). I’ve written about a few of them. I love being out of sight of land, free of the dangers and stresses of land. I love being on and in the water. I love the excitement of crossing paths with another boat after hours or days without seeing a thing. I’m not scared by the uncertainty of what else is out there. I admit that I was blessed by a very strong boat, a very capable captain and very good weather. Still, there is no place I’d rather be than on a sailboat in the middle of the sea.
Just before we left New York three years ago, an acquaintance exclaimed, “You must be very comfortable with yourself!” It hadn’t occurred to me that that was a prerequisite to surviving at sea, or that that was a personality trait I possessed. But after a handful of long passages, I’m pretty sure she was right. I am very comfortable with myself standing long solo watches in the middle of the sea. I like to be alone.
And now I’m boatless and grounded and landsick, wondering “What’s next?”
I want to cross an ocean. I want to be so far from land that I stop looking for it on the horizon. I want to be so disconnected from the world that I stop wondering who has liked my Facebook post and what new tragedy has waked our society and earth. I want to forget what day it is for so many days I don’t know what month it is. I want time and space at sea to reflect on the last three years at anchor. I want to feel like we’re the only vessel in the sea, to feel like we’re big and powerful harnessing the wind to move, to feel like we’re small and vulnerable so far from rescue and so exposed to weather, to know that those very contradictory feelings are both very true, to walk that line between acknowledging the risks and surrendering to them. I want to cross an ocean for the same reason I wanted to cross the street as a young girl, the country as a teenager and the world as an adult. I want to cross an ocean because I can.
In the words of Disney’s newest heroine Moana, “It calls me…. If the wind in my sail on the sea stays behind me, One day I’ll know, How far I’ll go.”
Here are some videos of my time at sea. Viewer beware; they are bumpy. And maybe boring.