Flying Fish departs soon from Key West bound for the Panama Canal, Polynesia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Africa, the Caribbean, and then home again to Key West. It’s a three-year cruise. In my pre-launch discombobulation this morning I lamented to a friend that I could not even find my car keys; how was I going to find my way around the world?
His advice to me was perfect: “Just keep sailing in the same direction.”
Most voyagers, whether they are using a sailboat or some other conveyance of transit—mental or physical—depart on the journey with some level of trepidation. It is hard to step into the unknown. We take comfort in what is familiar. But, at the same time, those of us with restless souls cannot wait to see what is on the other side of the looking glass.
I guess that is one way to explain why I am leaving a happy marriage, a beautiful home, and a loving family to sail for three years across open water to distant islands. At age 61, the journey will be difficult. And it will be lonely. Somebody suggested I bring along a cat for company. That would end badly.
The first leg of this voyage will be 7 to 10 days en route to Panama. I will have a strong crew for this passage. My father, who celebrated his 91st birthday this year, is a master mariner and has inspired this voyage with extraordinary sailing adventures of his own. He was also onboard Flying Fish during her maiden voyage when we caught a blue marlin while trolling behind the sailboat in the Gulf of Mexico. Dad is coming along to catch our dinner. My brother Bob will also be aboard for the passage to Panama. Bob and I have a long and interesting history together on boats that includes a transatlantic crossing so under-provisioned that we ate food castoffs scavenged behind restaurants in Gibraltar. And upon arrival in the Caribbean after 30 days at sea we were so hungry that we roasted road kill over a beachside bonfire. Bob is not in charge of provisioning Flying Fish, but he will be great company nonetheless.
Of course, we all know the “best-laid plans” are subject to change. The 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season is a case in point. But if adversity makes us stronger then change is the dynamic that challenges us to seek new horizons. I will consider this journey a success the day after tomorrow when we finally raise the sails on Flying Fish and point her bow to the west.