Offshore, offline, and the essence of ocean crossing
Published on November 24th, 2015
By Bill Springer, Swizzle Media
As the world continues to erupt into violence, bigotry, hatred and…the banality of red Starbucks cups or the size of Kim Kardashian’s behind being “news,” I’m even more thankful for the ability to unplug, log off, and tune in that comes from sailing over the horizon (and out of cell phone range) on a semi-regular basis.
But sailing to Bermuda as the days get shorter, the wind gets colder, and weather systems strafe the Gulf Stream is special. Maybe it’s because the first stamp in my first passport (entry by sea) was administered by a very proper Bermudian in the timeless port of St. Georges’s Harbour way back in nineteen hundred and ninety-three.
Or maybe it’s because Bermuda is the way-station between the cold and bitterness of the “North” and all the hopes and dreams that come with sailing south to the “Tropics.” Or maybe it’s because Bermuda is a god-forsaken hunk of coral in the middle of a god-forsaken stretch of North Atlantic that’s going to kick your butt every time you set a course for it. It’s all of the above.
But now more than ever, I’ve come to cherish the clarity and perspective that comes from the curious combination of being uncomfortable (on an ever-changing scale of intensity), exhilarated, bored, impatient, challenged, and most-of-all unmoored, that is the essence of offshore sailing.
Being unmoored is NOT being rudderless. The opposite in fact. Being unmoored is the wonderful state of having a destination but not being where we were and not where we are going. Like when you have a layover in Dallas, or Philly, or Frankfurt, or LA. Being unmoored and in the moment in air world is a wondrously free and inspiring place to be. But even long flights end in a matter of hours and hours are mere childs play when compared to the days and days of “4 hours on-4 hours off” that happen on offshore passages. And the deck of a 64-foot yacht en route to Bermuda in mid-November is much less crowded than terminal 8 at JFK.
So, having just transited through terminal 8 in JFK on my way back from an offshore passage from Annapolis to Bermuda, you’re probably expecting a tale of starlit nights, and sea life, and crazy US Navy armadas (complete with full-on aircraft carrier, helicopter that buzzed us hundreds of miles offshore), and an endless procession of fighter jets booming overhead as we exited the Chesapeake, and 600 miles of 20-25 knot headwinds, and funky waves in the Gulf Stream we tried not to bash into.
But we’re not going to talk about any of that. Instead, I want to talk about stuff that’s much more important. Like friendship. And respect. And being a pro. And pancakes!