Remember that feeling of seeing your house from the window of an airplane? It looks so small, and so familiar. I remember that feeling now as a pilot banks over Sāo Vincente on his final approach to Cape Verde. Under the wing, 1,000 below, I can see Flying Fish moored in the harbor of Mindelo. I am returning to make another attempt at bringing Flying Fish home. I’ll try anything twice.
The first attempt to cross the Atlantic in Flying Fish ended in disappointment six weeks ago. My wife Ginny had joined me in the Canary Islands for a pre-Christmas passage to the Caribbean that we expected would take 20 days. The sailing was spectacular, until it wasn’t.
Trouble seemed to happen all at once: a broken mainsail halyard, contaminated fuel, and then a complete DC power blackout that left us hand steering in the blind through a nasty gale. With only a compass and an iPhone for navigation–and despite a collaborative family effort of troubleshooting via satellite phone–the safest decision was to divert 500 miles to the Cape Verde Islands for repairs.
My brother Bob will join me aboard Flying Fish for the upcoming passage to the Caribbean. We have a history of ocean sailing together that dates back nearly a half-century. Bob was with me at the beginning of this voyage aboard Flying Fish four years ago, on the first leg from Key West to Panama. Our father also joined us on that 1,000-mile passage in 2017. We will try to convince Dad to sail with us again once we reach the Caribbean. It won’t take much convincing. At age 95, Dad says he already has his bags packed.
This strength of family is the flood tide pulling Flying Fish toward home. For much of these past four years, I have sailed alone around the world. It was a voyage in pursuit of self-centered freedom–no obligations, no compromise, no schedule. I learned, however, that it is a lonely person who follows that route.
As I get closer to closing this circle, I feel my priorities shifting. Despite my aimless wandering, the love and encouragement I have received from my family has never wavered. While they may have questioned my motivations, my family was never judgemental of the time I spent alone at sea.
In the novel To Have and Have Not, Hemingway’s character Harry Morgan, on his deathbed, struggles to say, “One man alone ain’t got. No man alone now. No matter how a man alone ain’t got no bloody–chance.” The quote resonates with me.
I am looking forward to sailing to this New World with my brother.
Top banner image: Farol do Ilhéu dos Pássaros marks the strait between Sāo Vicente and Santo Antāo. The lighthouse is connected by exterior stairway to the keepers house halfway down the rocky slope. It was built in 1882, and named after King Luís I of Portugal. Photograph: © Jeffrey Cardenas
Flying Fish will resume its passage toward Key West in the next week or so, depending on the weather.
As always, Sailing is not just about the wind and the sea; equally important are the places, the flora, fauna, and people encountered along the way.
Please click “Follow” at the bottom of this page so that you don’t miss a new update,- and please consider sharing this post with others who might enjoy following the voyage of Flying Fish. I welcome your comments, and I will always respond when I have an Internet connection. I will never share your personal information.
You can follow the daily progress of Flying Fish, boat speed (or lack thereof), and current weather as we sail into the Atlantic by clicking this satellite uplink: https://forecast.predictwind.com/tracking/display/Flyingfish. A Bonus: Click the “Legends and Blogs” box on the right side of the tracking page for passage notes while we are sailing offshore.
To see where Flying Fish has sailed since leaving Key West in 2017, click here: https://cruisersat.net/track/Flying%20Fish.
Text and Photography © Jeffrey Cardenas 2021
Let this be a time of grace and peace in our lives – Fr. John Baker