Monday, May 11, 2015

Day 27: Oh, the Joy

The last few days of the passage I kept thinking about Lewis and Clark. I'm no history buff, and I have only scant knowledge of their famous expedition. Still, those guys kept coming back to me.

In particular, I kept thinking of, "Oh, the joy," the three words one of them uttered upon first sighting the Pacific Ocean. I can't tell you why I know this. I also know that, as the crow flies, Lewis and Clark's journey was about the same distance as our passage, 3000 miles. And I know their expedition was a huge success: they achieved their goal, acquired important knowledge along the way, and, significantly, did it with their crew--er team--intact. (At least I'm pretty sure that's all true. If not, feel free to leave me in my ignorance.)

So on the morning we expected to sight land, Eleanor and I sat in the cockpit, headphones on, listening to randomly shuffled episodes of "This American Life" and willing the vapor on the horizon to consolidate into land. On the chart we could see the island of Fatu Hiva directly ahead of us, and close. So close that some had begun to make oh-so-hilarious jokes regarding the abilities of this ship's navigator (you may have heard Mike say, "She MAKES maps." The implication being the making of maps does not equate to the reading of or the navigating by, which is a point well taken, though not by me).

Then, while I squinted into the haze, a spooky thing happened, one of those things that disorients pragmatic folks like me who don't believe in gods, or ghosts, or destiny. In my headphones, a "This American Life" story of a construction worker, one of more than a thousand such stories stored on our iPod, began. In this story, the construction worker's interest in collecting things led him to amass one of the world's outstanding collections of books on, you guessed it, Lewis and Clark. As a result of his relentless and often financially irrational pursuit of these rare books, this hard-working, uneducated dude eventually finds wealth and becomes one of the foremost experts on Lewis and Clark. When asked to choose one of his favorite passages, he emotionally reads aloud the journal entry for the day on which Lewis and Clark first see the Pacific Ocean. As he reads, Mr. ex construction worker now Lewis and Clark scholar is choking up, and so am I. I become convinced that while he is reading, I will catch first sight of the island before us, because how perfect would that be? And so I am frantically scanning the horizon when Eleanor looks at me wide eyed and says, "Mom, that's exactly like us!" I just nod my head and smile. I hadn't shared any of my Lewis and Clark ponderings and to share them now just seemed too clunky, too out of the moment.

A couple hours later I did catch first sight of land. It was a just barely visible silhouette of a steep, craggy slope descending into the ocean. I called down below and we ran to the bow. There was a minute of, "Where? I don't see it!," and finally, "Oh! There! I see it!

Then I said, "One, Two, Three," and together we shouted, "Land ho!"


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  1. Congratulations Pacific voyagers! What a flawless passage. Loved loved following along and re-living the trip...squalls and all. Enjoy the fruits of your labor (literally!) Can't wait to hear about your adventures among the most gorgeous islands in the world. Well done you four!

  2. So excited for you! I have been clicking refresh often for the past 2 weeks since I discovered your blog. Love your writing style and the authenticity of your sharing! Thank you for inspiring us to move forward with our dreams of ocean voyaging!


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