Posted by: adventuressetravels | June 19, 2010

Come Sail Away

There was a soft, permeating rain falling on Chicago that morning.  The kind that soaks you to the bone in a matter of minutes and can fall for days.  Still glowing from the delectable sour cherry, wine sauce, crepe breakfast at Walker Bros. Pancake House H had taken me to that morning and on my way to another adventure even the deluge couldn’t dampen my spirits.  I always leave Chicago feeling warm and fuzzy; H seemed to have that effect on people. 

I said quick goodbyes before yanking my backpack from the trunk of her orange Element and waddling across the street as quickly as I could with my enormous backpack and bags, toward the small cluster of people huddling under an overhang.   They were all were all waiting for Megabus.  The stop was in the next block; the block without a scrap of shelter from the rain.  My hoodie was thoroughly sodden by the time I finally squished my way onto the waiting bus. 

Many people view long bus rides, down time, or lulls as boring or frustrating.  Though they’re not my favorite, I see them as a chance to put feelers out, plan adventures, explore possibilities, or make plans of attack.  And planning certainly isn’t boring, it’s fantastic.  Planning is figuring out how to make what can be actually happen.   

Sitting sideways legs curled over two bus seats I went over the trip in my mind.  I’d check out Memphis for a day, Bonnaroo, and then the high seas!  I couldn’t wait to get back out on the water and at last I’d really learn how to sail!

I had fallen in love with sailing in Argentina on my friend A’s beautiful sloop sailboat, the Aventura.  Sailing was freedom.  The absolute peace when you looked out over the sun-gilded surface of the expansive river Plate took my breath away.  There was an indescribable sense of utter joy that filled your heart to brimming as the boat swept silently over the waves, the wind filling the sails and whipping through your hair.  From my first day out, I was hooked.  I would learn how to sail.  I needed to be on the water.  I would sail around the world.

There are few things that can’t be accomplished when one really sets ones’ mind to it, and I had my sights set on sailing.  Of course there was the slight problem that I didn’t actually know how to sail per say, but experience would cure that.  Then there was the money issue.  I didn’t have it, or not even close to the hundreds of thousands of dollars one friend told me it would take.  But I wasn’t letting a little thing like money dissuade me.  And so I started in on the research.

First I put the tentative feelers out, talking to A, who himself wanted to build a boat and sail around the world.  He’d mentioned something about hitchhiking boats.  When I asked him about it he clarified, “It isn’t really hitchhiking, most of the time you do have to work.  But there are sailing magazines and message boards and people have posts looking for company or crew.  Be careful though, some men are looking for more than company and if you get out on a boat there is nowhere to go,” he warned.

I turned to the internet and googled everything I could find on sailing and boat hitchhiking looking at posts on how they had boat hitchhiked around the world, and scanning through websites boat owners might post on.  I soon found a favorite, findacrew.net and signed up. I talked to a few captains on there, ended up meeting up with one of them in Cartagena, Colombia.

 Z was a fascinating person, a composer and filmmaker who had decided to take some time off and sail around the world.  We got on swimmingly, and I would have loved to sail with him.  I helped him work to get his boat in shape, but sadly the beautiful little catamaran wasn’t ready before my visa expired and I had to get back on the road.

After that I turned my attention away from the ocean, I had a ticket back to the states, weddings and birthdays to attend… I had a full schedule.  Then a week or so after getting invited to Bonnaroo there was an email in my inbox.

It was from captain X, one of the boat owners I had been talking to on findacrew.  Did I want to help sail a boat up the East coast from Florida to avoid hurricane season?  He would pay for my tickets to and from the delivery, I’d have my own cabin, whatever food I wanted, and I could learn how to sail.  The other crew member had been a sailing instructor. 

The boat was leaving June 15th from West Palm Beach Florida.   June 15th; it fit perfectly into my schedule, right after Bonnaroo.  I could check out Nashville for a few days, fly down to Palm Beach, head up the coast to deliver the boat, and then bounce over to South or Central America from there!

Lost in my thoughts and looking at plane tickets the trip to Memphis flew by.  Before I knew it I was stepping out into the steamy Memphis night.  Ten minutes later L, the girl I was couchsurfing with pulled into the bus station parking lot.

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