Feb 202012

I was reading my latest single-handing book last night, and came across a quote I really enjoyed. Bernard Moitessier was the first person to sail single-handed without stopping all around the world. Look him up in world records, he’s there.

He’s also a beautiful writer, and I highly recommend the book from whence this passage came, “The Long Way”, about his choice to continue sailing after he made his record, and not return home.

“I am neither happy nor sad, neither really tense nor really relaxed. Perhaps that is the way it is when a man gazes at the stars, asking himself questions he is not mature enough to answer. So one day he is happy, the next a bit sad without knowing why. It is a little like the horizon: for all your distinctly seeing sky and sea come together on the same line, for all your constantly making for it, the horizon stays at the same distance, right at hand and out of reach. Yet deep down you know that the way covered is all that counts.”

A view from aloft

Feb 192012

Live Like the Wind

For those that don’t know, in addition to being a sailor, I’m also a musician. I arranged and recorded “Live like the wind” in 2010. The lyrics are from an obscure poem by a man named Countee Cullen, written in the late 1800′s, but the music is mine.

Me practicing my claw-hammer skills on the banjo!I originally found the poem published in “Loving and Leaving the Good Life” by Helen Nearing, a woman who moved from NYC to Vermont with her husband Scott in the 1920′s to establish a homestead. She and Scott are often described as “the original back-to-the-landers”. She wrote about a dozen books describing their lifestyle in detail, and she was a lover and collector of quotes.

From the moment I first read it, the sentiment of this poem resonated for me. It speaks of two people in love, each firmly independent, but joined together by the invisible bonds of mutual respect and freedom.

Six years later I re-discovered it, and just as easily as reading it, it fell into a song. I remember walking down the streets of Worcester humming the melody to myself, reworking the words in slight ways, and refining the harmony. I have no idea if descendents of Countee Cullen exist, but I give credit to him and thank him for producing such a simple and poignant tribute to partnership without ownership.

“Live like the wind,” he said, “unfettered
And love me while you can,
And when you will and can be bettered,
Go to the better man.

“For you may grow weary sleeping
So long a time with me
Like this, there’ll be no cause for weeping.
The wind is always free.”

“Go when you please” he would be saying,
His mouth hard on her own.
That’s why she stayed and loved the staying
Contented to the bone.

If you liked this, you can find more of my music here:

Jan 072012

I just finished reading this fantastic sailing adventure book by a Brit named Miles Smeeton. He and his wife were heroes of WWI and after the war, like many people, missed the excitement and adventurous lifestyle they’d grown accustomed to.  After attempting a new start on a farm in Canada, they bought a yacht and began sailing around the world.

“Once is Enough” is Miles’ account of the attempt by him and his wife, Beryl, to round Cape Horn west to east in their 46′ wooden yacht, Tzu Hang. He and Beryl, along with their friend and ship’s carpenter John, survived an almost unbelievable knock-down, dismasting and swamping of Tzu Hang. After completely repairing and refitting the destroyed ketch, Miles and Beryl made a second attempt.

I found my way to this book while reading “A Voyage for Madmen” about the 1969 race to be the first non-stop solo circumnavigator (also a great read). This is a beautifully composed memoir of an exceptional journey through the South Pacific. What more can I say without sounding cliche? If you are addicted to sailing adventure stories like me, you’ve got to hunt this one down.

Give a man — or a girl for that matter — a horse he can ride, and sooner or late he, or she, will want to ride further and faster and to jump higher. Let a man climb one mountain and he must find another until he seeks the snows. It is the same with a ship…Capes and seas, like mountains, “are there,” to round and to cross; and adventure, even when not in search of knowledge and without scientific aim, is good for its own sake.

-Miles Smeeton, “Once is Enough”


Dec 252011

It’s been a few days since my last post! I’ve been busy scrambling to check off all of my to-do’s before Christmas and my flight to Tasmania (which leaves Friday morning!)

In my very brief moments of internet-perusing procrastination, I came across a new sailor’s blog. “The Old Salt Blog” is by Rick Spilman, who is clearly one of those passionate and knowledgeable maritime geeks that we’re all glad exist. His blog is a great mix of boating news from around the world, maritime trivia and history, and book reviews. It’s updated very regularly, and is well organized.

My favorite find on his website (and the source of this post’s title) was a thumbnail of a book entitled “Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean: How a Generation of Swashbuckling Jews Carved Out an Empire in the New World in Their Quest for Treasure, Religious Freedom–and Revenge“  He hadn’t reviewed it yet, but I’m definitely looking forward to picking it up! I’ll be needing some good reading for those 36 hours of travel I have coming up…