“I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts,” Ishmael said, and I heartily agree with him.
These days there aren’t any lands left to discover, no mountains that have not been explored, and all the world’s rivers have already been mapped. The ocean is the only place left for modern explorers like me to experience the unknown. Out on the briny deep where the horizon is infinite I feel I am a prospector of old with an endless world at my disposal to survey.
Long ago and far away, back in the good ol’ days, my uncle owned a sailboat. A sleek and long sailboat, whose shiny wooden hull was embellished by shinier chrome. It was the pride of his life. Every weekend he would inveigle my cousins and I to go out onto the boat with him. It was an event I dreaded and looked forward to evading at all costs. Spit polishing the steering wheel and sweeping the deck never seemed to me very exciting. The actual time spent on the water was always so short that I felt a boat was a hindrance. I vowed never to own one.
Several years ago a friend of mine invited me on board their sloop for a weekend sail to an island off the coast of Maine. I thought little of the adventure, but decided to accept because it would be something different. I was hoping not to relive the days of helping my uncle “take the boat out.” This, as it turns out, was a life changing experience. Crouching forward at the ship’s bow, I felt the force of the wind and water and saw us approach a future of never ending blue. Behind us we quickly left the safety of land, embarking on an undetermined escapade. I felt transformed into a crew member of an expedition heading out into unchartered territory, blissfully clueless about what the journey ahead would bring.
When we reached our tiny island destination it felt to me as if we were the first to land upon the shore. Exhilaration filled me as I spotted the sandy shore and empty beach where we would anchor. Despite knowing that our party was one of hundreds of thousands to arrive at this island every year, I had an urge to investigate the topography and take notes of the islet’s habitability. This must be how countless Europeans felt as they approached the coastlines of the American and Pacific Asian continents. Though they were not the first to see these seaboards, they felt as if they were seeing novel country. I was transported by the sailing experience into a society of travelers and voyagers that I had never encountered before.
Now, as an adult I regret that I did not pay closer attention to my uncle’s instructions. It would have helped me be a useful shipmate on that first journey and make future solo excursions easier. Still, I would not trade my greenhorn status for a place among the sad “land lubbers” I see lost in their seaward trances, pining to be rocking among the rhythmic waves. Unlike Ishmael, I do not care how I go a-sailing, as passenger or sailor or lonesome captain, as long as I get onboard my next adventure. However I manage to wrangle passage, I know irrefutably that from unmooring to arriving into port, there will be grand journeys of discovery ahead.
Please remember that all proper permits and visas must be in working order before setting sail to a destination. Arriving at a port is similar to arriving at the airport and each country has its own rules and regulations about docking personal boats.
Find more water adventures in Into The Blue.