And Then It Was Over…

A final passage from the Bahamas to Florida… and then this voyage of Flying Fish was over. Photograph: Lilly Cardenas

“Do not cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” – Unattributed

It is a feeling similar to running aground. One moment I am sailing full and by, ebullient, eyes set on a new horizon. In the next moment, life aboard Flying Fish comes to a grinding halt. I am speaking metaphorically, of course. The boat has never been in better condition. Flying Fish is ready to go around the world again, but my voyage aboard her has come to an end.

One might think that going around the world at seven miles an hour would provide ample time for a person to prepare for the end of a voyage. I can read a map, and I saw that the loop was closing, but after nearly five years at sea, I had apparently conditioned myself into believing that I was living an endless summer.

There is a pull, however, that is greater than the tides that carried Flying Fish around the world. It is family. My wife Ginny and I have been married for 41 years, and she has been patient with my restlessness. My mother and father are in their mid-90s and challenged by health issues. My brother and sister are in Key West, where I have lived for more than four decades. Family is the beacon that guided me home.

My family also brought me home in a literal sense. I sailed Flying Fish into the Abaco Islands to join my wife Ginny and our daughter Lilly. And there was a surprise. Last year, Lilly had met an amazing man named Chris Wall, an aviator who had once circumnavigated the globe in a small airplane. Chris was welcomed on board Flying Fish and the four of us gunkholed through the northern Bahamas before turning the boat west toward Florida. “Be careful,” Chris said, drawing on the experience of his global adventure. “The most difficult time of your entire journey will come when the adventure ends.” His words were prophetic.

Chris was a newcomer aboard Flying Fish, but Ginny and Lilly were more personally and emotionally invested in the passage around the world. Lilly had crossed the equator twice aboard Flying Fish, once south of the Galapagos, and a second time in the South China Sea. Both times she celebrated the transit of 0° degrees latitude by swimming under the hull of Flying Fish, as we crossed into a different hemisphere. Ginny had her own adventures. Last year, she endured a potentially catastrophic passage with me aboard Flying Fish, 1,000 miles west of Africa. Without her help, I might still be floating aimlessly in the South Atlantic Ocean.

My 95-year-old father Robert joined me for the last leg aboard Flying Fish. It was a short but poignant 15-mile passage from Ft. Pierce, Florida north to Vero Beach. Dad will be 96 in a couple of weeks. Everything that has to do with my lifetime aboard sailboats began with him, including this voyage. Dad, and my brother Bob, were aboard on December 1, 2017, when Flying Fish departed from Key West for the Panama Canal.

Dad was quiet during that last leg to Vero Beach. We were both lost in thought. Finally, he said, “Where has all the time gone?”

Time passes so quickly as we age, but Dad’s time on the sea has been well-spent. He sailed across both the Atlantic and the Pacific leaving a wake for me to follow. Mom and Dad, who will celebrate their 71st wedding anniversary this year, raised four kids to love and respect the ocean. On the last leg of this journey, Dad helped me pilot the boat into a safe harbor where Flying Fish was transferred into the hands of a broker and listed for sale.

“Where has all the time gone,” I repeated, “and what comes next?”

In this context, I often think of the French sailor Bernard Moitessier who, in 1968, participated in (and was winning) the Golden Globe Race, the first non-stop, singlehanded, round-the-world sailboat race. On the home stretch of his circumnavigation, Moitessier could not face the idea of his voyage coming to an end. Instead of returning to the starting line in England, and to the accolades awaiting him there, he continued sailing an additional 15,000 miles east until he found seclusion in French Polynesia. Moitessier notified race officials (and his family) that he was dropping out of the race and continuing around the world a second time by firing a note using a slingshot onto the deck of a passing ship. In the note, he wrote an explanation for dropping out of society: “Parce que je suis heureux en mer et peut-être pour sau her mon âme” (“Because I am happy at sea and perhaps to save my soul.”)

It has been six weeks since I returned to land. I have not, until now, been able to write a single word reflecting upon this marvelous journey. I can barely speak a coherent sentence. I have re-entered a bewildering tornado of noise and commotion, violence and anger. What’s going on? Is the world different now, or has it always been like this and I have just become accustomed to the solitude and tranquility of life at sea?

My immediate challenge is to tune out the static and regain focus. As to the question of what comes next, I have no answer. What I do know is that it has been a privilege and a blessing to see the world from the deck of Flying Fish.

Bora Bora, 2018, as seen from the deck of Flying Fish. © Jeffrey Cardenas

Thanks for sailing along with Flying Fish.

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 consider sharing this post with others who might enjoy following the voyage of Flying Fish. I welcome your commentsand I will always respond.

You can read additional Passage Notes from the daily progress around the world aboard Flying Fish by clicking this satellite uplink: https://forecast.predictwind.com/tracking/display/Flyingfish

To see where Flying Fish has sailed since leaving Key West in 2017, click here: https://cruisersat.net/track/Flying%20Fish.

Instagram: FlyingFishSail
Facebook: Jeffrey Cardenas

Text and Photography © Jeffrey Cardenas 2022

Let this be a time of grace and peace in our lives   – Fr. John Baker

91 thoughts on “And Then It Was Over…

  1. Thank you so much for allowing us to share your journey through your photos and stories. Each post has been a treat.
    Wishing you all the best in your next stage of life.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have thoroughly enjoyed every post you made along your journey. I was the other part of Bonefish Bob, and have lived in Ennis MT, since 2006. The keys were getting way too busy for me. Ennis is peace. Thanks. Jan Wood

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Imagine if you are lucky enough to live to your father’s age and you have these wonderful memories to look back on. What a wonderful gift! No one else could have given it to you and no one can take it away. Thanks for sharing with this gift with us!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Patricia and David, people like you two, who had such an important impact not only on my sailing passages but also on the passages of so many others transiting the south Pacific, are a part of a great nomadic family. Thank you for helping to keep us safe at sea.

      Like

  4. So enjoyed your journey with you. Your writing and photography are world class. Good luck acclimating to to the world again although Key West makes it a lot easier. Thank you for a fantastic journey

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The description of the end of your journey brought me to tears. Thank you for sharing. You are one amazing man and it has been an honor to know you and Ginny for the past nearly 40 years.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Jeffrey….

    I have followed your voyage from start to finish. It has been a fascinating adventure. Thanks for sharing it. I’ve enjoyed your beautiful pictures and thoughtful perspectives. Best of luck on the ‘next chapter’.

    Warm Regards….Bill Ogle

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Jeff, thank you so much for sharing the last 5 years of your awesome journey with everyone ❤️ I do believe Chris said it best, ” The most difficult time will come when the adventure ends” I so so believe this. I pray that you will be able to adapt in a totally new world. I think of you often my sweet Jeff ! My 8th grade crush of all time!! I hope I have the opportunity to once again see you! Much love to you ❤️ and your family
    Love, Leanne 🥰

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Life, at times like this, is about moving forward. Certainly, putting your photos and words into book to share with all your vicarious fans is a worthy project. Don’t clip your wings. (Or reef your sails). New adventures await!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi Jeffrey.Sandy Dorley here asking permission to paint the picture in this posting. You may not remember, but you gave me permission to paint another one several years ago. It is attached. I framed it and titled it “For Jeffrey.”  It was put in a show at the Key West Art Center and actually sold to a nice couple from somewhere out west I was told.  I was stunned.Do I owe you any money for the sale?I’m so happy to be a part of your excursion through your posts.  It took me a while to finish that first painting. Perhaps you’ll be able to see this second one in person.( Just to remind you, I met you at Michele and Eric’s New Years Eve party many years ago, and Ginny was our attorney. ) Take care . You’re a fantastic writer and photographer. I hope you are able to keep that going on land. Hoping you’ll let me paint the photo….SandySent from my Galaxy

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Jeff, I can relarte both to your words and to Moitessier’s reluctance to stop. Whenever I get on my boat, I want to just keep going. But family and family obligations have always brought me back. Because that’s what’s important. Congratulations on making it around, and welcome home.

    Liked by 1 person

    • When I entered the Caribbean in Flying Fish and began plotting a route back to Florida I would sometimes place a waypoint on the Panama Canal instead and fantasize on a second time around. I just needed to remember how fortunate I was to be able to do it once.

      Like

  11. A suggestion for the next thing. How about a book of those beautiful pictures and great writing? Include Lilly’s article too. I think she may have inherited a gift for writing and photography from her dad.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. As a friend of Bob and Debbies, I have so enjoyed your posts of your adventures. Even though a few kept me awake until I knew all was well. I don’t know why you would want to do what you did but applaud it. Not many can say they followed their dreams. Will buy your book!

    Liked by 1 person

    • If the posts kept you awake, then I am grateful to have had your attention.
      I did what I did because I was curious about other people who lived near the ocean. This truly is a blue planet, and it is seawater that binds us all together.
      Thank you for following.

      Like

  13. Jeffrey, Congratulations on your amazing trip. It’s hard to believe that it has been almost 5 years that I was among your family and friends when you left Key West. I have followed you around the world and certainly enjoyed your posts and gorgeous pictures. Welcome home.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Not only were you among the family and friends on the dock wishing us well when we departed Key West, but you were responsible, in a large part, for the trip to have been possible in the first place. Thank you, Dave.

      Like

  14. Jeff,
    What a gift you have given all of us with sharing your fabulous adventures. You are truly living your life to the fullest.
    I remember our early journalism days.
    Stay in touch my friend.
    Debbie Seitner-Moody🥂

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Thanx for a wonderful adventure! I really enjoyed following in your wake. I have many sea miles and I understood most of the ups and downs as well as one could without being on deck. You are a lucky man Jeffrey Cardenas …I wish you well and Thanx Man! What a trip!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I will miss you. I’ve loved your journey and am so grateful to have followed your story in your writing.

    Stay well my salty friend. Charlene SV Cailin Lomhara Currently in Cairns

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    Liked by 1 person

    • I remember seeing SV Cailin Lomhara at anchor in Tonga and thinking she was one of the most beautiful vessels afloat. Thank you so much for staying in contact, Charlene. Smooth sailing to you.

      Like

  17. Jeffery, it has been amazing following your adventures around the world. The ending is sad for me also, I looked forward to your emails and reading the stories you lived.
    Thank-you for sharing your journey, I really enjoy your writing.
    Good luck on your next chapter, I hope to read about it!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Jeffery, thank you so much for sharing your adventure with us. The photography and stories were beyond anything Carol and I could have imagined.
    We wish you and your family all the best in the future and hope to see you again at some point in the future. Stay safe
    Ed and Carol Mueller

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Jeffery, congratulations on your accomplishments. I have enjoyed your writing and the superb photography. Are you in the Vero / Ft. Pierce area for long?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Scott, Thank you for reading the posts, and for your generous compliments. Flying Fish is now moored in Vero’s Loggerhead Marina, at least until the end of hurricane season. I am commuting back and forth from Key West every couple of weeks to give her a little love.

      Like

  20. Jeffery, thank you so much for bringing me along on your journey. Every road has expected and unexpected adventure. You had your share. The end is bittersweet I am sure. I love you Jeffrey. I am sure you have many journeys ahead. I am blessed to have experienced this journey through your words, your eyes, and the lens if your camera. All the best. Edd

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Edd. You were always there when I needed an encouraging word. I like that our friendship has been so eclectic and in so many places, Bermuda, Tennessee, Key West, Cuba. You have lived a fascinating life. Let’s please stay in contact.

      Like

  21. And it has been a privilege and a blessing to see the world through your eyes aboard Flying Fish. As for where the time has gone, it has just moved ahead and is waiting on us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bob, you have just written the best answer to the question of where has all the time gone–it’s waiting on us. We can choose to positively fill that time, or we can live in the past. Another great writer (some guy named Thoreau) said, “Never look back unless you are planning to go that way.”

      Like

  22. I was so impressed by you Jeff, after reading your article. I really believe that your family is so blessed to have such a wonderful ocean life. I remember your mom and dad so well from Nova high school days! I remember when your dad worked at Burdines in downtown Ft Lauderdale. I don’t know if you remember me? I was your brother Bob’s friend at Nova in the late 60’s and graduated in 1970. Then we went around the United States together experiencing things like you. Also yes, like dad said “where has the time gone?” Regards and best to you and entire family, the rest of your life too! Please stay InTouch and give us updates in your new Chapter from time to time….Love Phil Babchick.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I really appreciate these kind thoughts, Phil, and the rekindling of memories from so many years ago. We were fortunate to have grown up in South Florida. And by the way, if the writing works, credit goes to my Mom. She was my English teacher at Nova High School.

      Like

  23. Jeff,
    Glad you are back in Key West, safe and sound. Your pictures and stories demand a book!
    What a wonderful experience and thank you for sharing it with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Welcome back Jeffrey. It’s hard to imagine you in the cereal aisle at the grocery store after that adventure!
    Very happy for you that you were able to accomplish it all, and grateful for the fantastic manner in which you’ve shared it.
    Best,

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha! Thank you Ruben. I keep looking for raw chicken feet in Publix, like in the markets of Indonesia, but I may have to harvest my own; there are plenty of roosters these days in Key West.
      Thank you for reading my posts.

      Like

  25. As a sailor bumped off the sea too soon, your voyage has been a real wonder to follow.
    Your sharing has gifted both your readers and I’m sure, yourself.

    “Find expression for a joy, and you will intensify its ecstasy.”
    Oscar Wilde

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Jeffery, I marvel at your restlessness. The outcome of your restlessness is such a great story! You are very kind to share the adventures of your sail around the world with words and INCREDIBLE photos. Glad you made it home safely. You were missed. Welcome home.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Fantastic Jeff!!!
    You are such an inspiration for adventure! The Man the Boat the Legend! Makes me want to load up my little 17 ‘ dory (with leeboards!!!!) and sail to Key west! Yep I know someone who did something like that once!👍
    God speed man………Hope to see you again someday!
    Jeff Mack

    Liked by 1 person

    • I thought of you often en route around the world, Jeff, especially when it was essential to have a strong boat around me during extreme conditions. You helped make Flying Fish bulletproof. Thank you.

      Like

  28. Jeffrey,
    Welcome Home!
    I can only imagine what you are going through as to reuniting to land.
    You’re so right about have family to come home to.
    Also, Thank you for sharing your amazing voyage, stories and photographs with us.
    I have traveled to so many amazing places and ports of calls through your voyage and I am truly grateful to you.
    Great news of Lilly meeting a great person.
    I’ll be in KW the week of 12/11/22 and will try to contact you and treat you to a Bucci.
    Sincerely,
    Byron

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Congratulations Jeffrey. You really did a great and poignant job of sharing your adventure. I hope to see the narrative and photos in a book one day to relive again. Or not. You’ve left your followers with a lot to remember. Maybe we’ll go fishing again? Thanks, Steve

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Steve. I would like to see the essays and photos in a book one day, too, but publishing is a greater challenge to me than sailing through a gale.
      I still remember our early, carefree days fishing together in the Marquesas. Thanks for reaching out.

      Like

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