Wrapping up into usable sound bites and elevator pitches an adventure such as our trans-Atlantic passage needs another kind of author altogether, maybe an author who thinks they don’t write fiction.
We do write fiction and we are also aware that the truth is in the story and the story is always the adventure.
The truth is in the hundreds of Portuguese man-o-wars, the little fishies that hovered in and around our hull’s shadow for a thousand miles, the dorado that scoffed at the rusty lure, the dolphin, the arm of the galaxy spangling the nighttime sky.
The adventure is in the squalls and storms, the joy of feeling truly at home on the ocean, the sundogs and threatening clouds and all the fucking gybes…
We sailed our 9.07 meter electric sailboat across the Atlantic flow of the Earth’s ocean, 1798 nautical miles from Bermuda to Faial as the albatross flies. But, um, we’re not albatross. We are a family of three on a vessel under sail and electric propulsion only, moving mostly downwind, and that meant gybing. About a thousand times…okay, not a thousand and not even once a day, but some days we did it three or four times so, believe me (James), we did a lot of gybing. Going back and forth, we went 1907 nautical miles to cover those 1789 direct miles.
A gybe (even on a nice day in the Chesapeake Bay) is a big deal. If not done almost perfectly every time it can bring your whole fucking rig down. Now, we have this really cool device called a boom brake that (wow!!!) works like gang-busters to control the speed of the boom as it crosses from one side of the boat to the other. Just like any other piece of offshore sailing gear, it needs constant observation and care so… not all of our gybes were Chapman’s perfect, if you know what I mean. But we didn’t break anything and we caught the shit that did threaten to go tits-up before it actually broke and ruined the day.
On or about the thirteenth day we got the worst part of all the incredible weather of the adventure. We took rogue wave after rogue wave all that very long day. The gales lasted about seventeen hours and in the end we rode the tail end of that weather through a moonless star-packed Milky Way stretching from horizon to horizon. The only light pollution came from hundreds of billionaire-satellites orbiting above. But hey, none of those guys will ever see what I have seen in the Atlantic sky.
In 2006, we sailed to Hawaii in a Gulf 32 pilothouse sloop called Sapien. We weren’t much into Hawaii for the year we spent there but the sail to that distant archipelago changed us forever. It took us twenty days to go 2040 nm…that’s a little better than 100 nm a day. We thought that was normal. When we made landfall in Radio Bay, Hilo, Hawaii, a small community of ocean sailing people showed up to handle lines on the wall and gasp at our incredibly short crossing to the most remote place in the world. They were all blown away. It took the guy on the 33 ft sailboat next to us 34 days from L.A. and the family on the big 45 ft ketch 47 days to get to the Big Island from Chile!
Since that incredible adventure, we have reveled in the facts that we only ran the engine a total of 20 hours the entire distance from San Fransisco to Hilo and that the Monitor windvane drove the boat for all except those motoring hours. We have thrilled many an audience with that adventure story. It’s true, we made great time and we sailed as much as we could.
It took us 29 days to get to Horta from Convict’s Bay in Bermuda in our little verse, our tiny vessel, our bobber on the massive seas and what we discovered was…we live here, on this planet, in this ocean on this sea among these residents in this verse on this world, absolutely at home.