Major break down starting two days ago.
We were informed by the shipping company (the one that owns the freighter) that they would need a substantial amount of additional money otherwise we would not be getting our boat. It would be off-loaded into custody.
They blamed the shipping agent (the guys who are sort of like the travel agents for freighters.) Because of the agent's neglect, a bad cradle was delivered. Because a bad trailer was delivered, it took four hours to load our boat, and some unknown extra time to shore it up with props because the cradle was unreliable. I spent a lot of time on the phone with three different people from the shipping company. Their advice: Settle the issue with your agent. The agent should take the financial hit.
The agent, of course, said it was the shipping company's fault. The cradle was fine, they claim. Their stance: the shipping company should drop the surcharge.
Bottom line: If we wanted our hostage back, we would have to give in to this extortion.
Frankly, I lost it. I was screaming and swearing in a conference call with agents. If it hadn’t have been for Jennifer, who knows how the conversation would have ended. She took over.
Threatening legal action had little effect.
“Go ahead, we’ve been in situations like these with boats worth millions and I can tell you, we are iron-clad protected.”
Oh really? That’s funny, because when I asked that very same sales agent before we shipped what kind of problems we might encounter; what kind of “unexpected” events sometimes occur, he said that in his fifteen years, he couldn’t remember a single one.
Jennifer and I went into a pretty deep funk. We discussed breaking off the trip. The costs associated with this whole trip have spiraled way beyond what we expected. It is certainly into the realm of irrational. Perhaps into the waters of irresponsible.
This extortion became the straw that was breaking the camel’s back. We added up the money, all the money we have spent in the last two years of preparing for this trip and going on this trip and we fell deeper into depression. I became catatonic, falling into bed and pulling the covers over my head. The next morning, Jennifer had to drag me to the coffee shop. I sat, drank and just couldn’t lift myself out of this deep, dark hole.
So, I’m doing the numbers. It has been almost a year since the fire. What a long, arduous detour on this voyage. We wanted to go on a two-year trip, and so far, out of the past 15 months, we have spent four on the boat. And you can’t really call crossing an ocean comfortable cruising, so deduct those six weeks. That leaves ten weeks of cruising.
It would be better to call the whole thing off now and quit throwing good money into a fire that is still burning from a year ago.
But, I rarely stay depressed for too long. I began having an emergency session with my council. In times like this, I have imaginary conversations with the people I know; the people I trust. My council.
My father ranks pretty highly in the council. My siblings all have seats. Joel, of course. And in second-row seating around the table are other voices. People I have known, who know me, and even if they aren’t in my life actively anymore, I still listen to them.
The council was divided. I was left with digging deeper into myself. And then I started remembering other guiding voices. One, who doesn’t sit at the table, but whose poem hangs on the council room wall, is Rudyard Kipling. His poem “If” has been a guide for me since childhood.
One line in his poem reads:
If you can "watch the things you gave your life to, broken
and stoop and build 'em up again with worn-out tools ..."
The poem concludes that if you can do that, among other things, then “yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it.”
And finally, I thought about my own advice to my daughter, Zoe, who took on her own adventure of spending a year in Germany during her tenth grade.
Voyages and adventures aren’t easy, I told her. But each time we venture beyond our comfort zone, (whether it be a trip, or even trying some new practice in life) we become the quintessential hero. The hero, as Campbell said, “with a thousand faces.”
Jennifer and I are Odysseus right now. We have a long way to go before we return home. We almost chose the short-cut. But then we would have given up. We would have given in to defeat.
Yes, it might be a ridiculous cost. Yes, our cherished boat might have suffered damage in that %$#@* cradle. But this is an adventure we have not completed yet. We are so close to the isles of ancient history we set out to explore. We cannot give up now.
Although, instead of just paying up, I wish I could settle this old-hero style. Run my sword though a couple of agents, then slice the tie-downs holding Phoenix to the freighter deck, kick the stands away, watch Phoenix splash into the Aegean, grab Jennifer around the waist with one arm, catch a crane line with the other, and swing us down onto the deck of Phoenix and sail away.