My father at age 85 on the island of Bimini. He is still ready to set sail for distant horizons.
I am reading the logbook my father wrote of a Pacific crossing he made from Panama to Vanuatu 20 years ago. On the first page Dad has handwritten these words, quoted from an anonymous poet:
A small boy heard the ocean roar,
There are secrets on my distant shore,
But beware my child, the ships bell’s wail,
Wait not to long to start to sail.
So quickly come and go the years,
And a young adult stands on a beach with fears,
Come on, come on, the ocean cussed,
Time passes on. Oh sail you must.
Now it’s business in mid-aged prime,
And maybe tomorrow there will be time,
Now is too soon, it’s raining today,
Gone all gone–years are eaten away.
An old man looks, still feeling the lure,
Yet he’ll suffer the pain, than go for the cure,
The hair is white, the steps with care,
The tide has turned, he is aware.
So all too soon the secrets are buried,
Along with him and all regrets he carried,
And it’s not for the loss of secrets he cried,
But rather because he’d never tried.
These words have affected me because I have never known this sentimental side of my father. He is a tough guy. The son of an immigrant. A WW II veteran. A man who earned his daily bread through hard labor. I have never known my Dad to regret anything.
My mother and father have always provided inspiration within our family to encourage adventure. When I was a 21-year-old college student, our parents surprised us by selling all of their possessions and buying a sailboat. They asked my two sisters, my brother, and me if we would like to join them. Are you kidding? Drop out of college for a few semesters and go sailing across the ocean? You betcha! We all stepped aboard.
We sailed from Ft. Lauderdale to Bermuda, to the Azores and then to Europe in a Cal 43 named Free Spirit. The voyage was a grand event in our lives. We made it as far as the Mediterranean, and then the money ran out. Mom and Dad returned home to work while the kids scattered to all points of the compass. It wasn’t easy for my parents to regroup into mainstream America. Money was tight but their dreams were always right there on the horizon.
Then, all of a sudden, Dad was 69 years old. “So quickly come and go the years…” An invitation arrived from a friend asking for help to sail a 43-foot catamaran across the Pacific. “Time passes on. Oh sail you must…” Mom flew to Fiji to meet up with Dad and the crew, and together they sailed through the South Pacific.
Now, at age 59, I am the one who is hearing that ocean roar.
“Wait not to long to start to sail,” said the anonymous poet.
I cannot wait.