The Sea and I — A Sailor Remembers

You have to sail the wind you’ve got…

This is actually the second blog that WordPress has been tolerant enough to host for me on the World Wide Web.  I didn’t trigger any lawsuits against them with my first effort, so I guess they feel relatively secure in giving me another, less ambitious shot.  Because I’ve already invested a good deal of time and effort in my first blog, and because I am loathe to repeat myself in these pages, I invite you to visit the other site.  I call it the other site as opposed to the earlier site because the material in the first blog comes from a much later, more recent and ongoing, time in my life.  I didn’t write it first because it is more important to me than my Notes from the Middle Watch, but only because it is more current and is happening even as I post its pages.  If you came to this site because of any interest in sailboats or sailing, then I can pretty much guarantee you’ll enjoy the other one, as well. 

These days, and only recently I might add, I’ve gone back to cruising.  But this time I’m doing it on dry land and at greatly accelerated speeds.  Please take a few moments to learn a little more about me and my renewed fascination with travel at Late-life Biker

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Two-thirds of my life (up to my current age) was behind me when I was fortunate enough–and some people would say brave enough–to cast my fate adrift on the sea.  Of course that’s not a very flattering description.  I was never actually “adrift” in those years when I enjoyed the freedom of life afloat.  But I was not long removed from that helpless nautical condition.  I had been sailing only since the ripe old age of 34.  That’s when I first put my nervous, Sperry-clad foot aboard a sailboat.  Ten years later I set sail to cross my first ocean.  I was 44– and at approximately that previously mentioned two-thirds point on the road to my current 68.  Still, I know how fortunate I was to have a sailing life while I was young enough to pursue it aggressively.  And at the time I thought I would sail forever, which–given my family’s longevity figures–didn’t seem unlikely.

You win some, and you lose some, as Gamblers Anonymous would remind us.  I won on beating the longevity odds; I’m more than a decade past where I expected the days to run out.  But I lost on the sailing-forever bet.  The good life lasted just as long as the money did, and after two spectacular sailing seasons that failed to produce the lucrative income I expected from writing and photography, I was looking for some other–wage-paying– road to adventure.  I was happily traversing continental Europe on its beautiful and amazing canals, headed south from The Netherlands, across Belgium and France when it became clear that I had two choices: go home or get a job.

It turned out all right.  I ended up living and working in a magnificent little city in northern Italy for more than two years.  I sold my boat to a pair of Italian brothers who loved her as much as I did, and I learned to explore by rail and roadway at every opportunity.  I returned to the U.S. well before my fiftieth birthday, resumed my journalism career, joined the faculty of a prestigious midwest university, took to the seminar circuit, became a corporate trainer, went back to journalism, retired from CNN in January of 2009, and discovered motorcycles.  That’s the whirlwind tour because these pages will focus only on the days and nights and months and years of sailing.  And even then, I hope to avoid cluttering the Internet with another mushy series of travelogues or how-to lessons.  What I hope to share with readers on this site is some of the mystery of sailing, the mystique, the romance, the satisfaction that goes beyond the eye candy of sunsets and dancing porpoises to the subtle and profound ways that experiences on or around the sea can touch and shape your very heart.  That’s why I chose as my first posting what you will find on the next page in The Flyer Who Fell from Grace with the Sky.

Most of what you will read here was written–or at least conceptualized, outlined, and researched– while I was sailing.  Some of the rough shipboard drafts have been polished since their scrawled and smudged beginnings, in longhand, on board Sigmet.  And a few of them are spontaneous, emotional outbursts put to paper immediately after specific events or recognitions in times of stress.  Probably more than any of the other posting, those rants are what led to this blog.  They recount important rediscoveries of self and conscience and often forsaken values.  Because, for me anyway, The Beatles got it wrong.  I found that life is what happens while you’re busy skippering a small boat on a large sea and in the ports along its shore.

(This page is a work in progress.  The fact is, I needed something to front the postings that will follow, to give them some context and maybe even a little credibility.  More information about my sailing routes and my lovely Sigmet are yet to follow.  But now that I’m trying to manage blogs on two separate fronts, I have a whole new appreciation for what scuttled the Nazi army.)

1 Response to The Sea and I — A Sailor Remembers

  1. Dale and Karol Cushenbery says:

    Hello Paul from Dale and Karol Cushenbery – Southampton and Amsterdam 1986-1987.
    We now live in the Pacific NW, still sailing. Surprised and pleased to find your blogs.

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