Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Day One and before (Mathias)

For me, this voyage was born of contrived want.

Not a want that is spontaneous and comes as an epiphany or burst of desire. Rather, a difficulty constructed want.

When I dropped out of college, it was because I had a burning want to run a newspaper. That want drove me for 15 years and those years were full of successes and great satisfaction. As that period came to an end, I wanted to become the third generation in a 100-year-old family manufacturing business. I did that and those years were full of successes and great satisfaction. But globalization and America's recession brought an end to that period.

In 2002, with bankruptcy looming, I began to contemplate what I wanted next. To my great shock, fear and depression, I found that I didn't know what I wanted. It is profoundly disturbing to not want something. Anything.

At that time, I picked up a book called "Happy." It was the autobiography a man who whom WWII left a cripple and yet he lived a determined and self-fulling life in which sailing played a major role. This crippled sailor was my uncle. And it was on his boat that I had my first sailing experiences. He was the one who put me in a dinghy and shouted at me, to my burning embarrassment, "Fall off!" "Bear up!" until I kinda got what I was doing.

If sailing could save this man, maybe it could save me. But this wasn't a sudden epiphany, but just a thought I had. I had to "think" about possibly "wanting" this. I had to think about a feeling.

Eventually, the thinking became feeling, and the thought became want. I wanted to take on the challenge and enjoy the rewards of living life on a sailboat. Life that is self-sufficient. Life that is about being frugal with resources. Life that is about exploration. Seeing new places. Having new experiences.

And voila, here I am: In Whitehall, NY. At the base of Lake Champlain, after the first day of Jennifer and my Grand Voyage.

It was good to finally cast off. We had such sweet send-offs including a friend who did a fly-over in his plane. (Pix to come another time.) The flooded, swollen, bloated lake was brown and full of floating logs, islands of grass and weeds and flotsam. We saw a lot of wildlife, including osprey, an eagle, beavers, fish jumping. And we saw some wildlife that was not so wild anymore: a large, bloated, floating dead deer.

We had engine problems. And midway down the lake, we drifted as I struggled with replacing a fuel filter. I couldn't get it off and grabbed a hammer and screw driver and drove the screwdriver right into the filter to get it off. It may have been some of the problem, but not all. I think I know what to tackle next.

We want to thank all of you who have been so supportive in helping us get on this trip. All sailors depart shores on the shoulders of those who have gone before them, and with the support and love of those they leave on shore.

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