Thursday, December 22, 2005

I have such a craving I started rereading Moitessier and relishing every word. Now, there was a guy that loved sailing and was nuts about sailboats. The facial features of Clint Eastwood and the original boat hippy:

“I have no desire to return to Europe with all its false gods. They eat your liver out and suck your marrow and brutalize you. I am going where you can tie up a boat where you want and the sun is free…”

In the final leg of the London Sunday Times Global single-handed around the world race, Bernard decided winning (he was far out in the lead) such a race was a hypocrisy to his true nature, came about and sailed back to the southern ocean, there to sail around the world again, a total of some 34-thousand miles before he finally stepped onto a firm sand beach.

I understand some of what I think Moitessier was thinking. Sailing, especially alone is a very personal experience. To be in solitude as long as he was in that race amplifies the intimacy of your thoughts and your fears. For me, sailing alone is in part a religious experience: no place can you see the majesty of God more clearly than a sunrise out far away from land. No place can you more clearly want and need God’s help than in a storm at sea at night. The fame and fortune awaiting Moitessier in London was sacrilege to the solace and succor of the sea and his time with her. Better to be loyal to what had protected him for so many thousands of miles.

Where the rest of us need at least some amount of food and water while sailing, Moitessier found Zen in a solitude oneness with the sea. Just breathing sea air was sustenance enough for survival. Ashore, usually shipwrecked, he would build his own boats out of whatever he could find, and in faith with his French blood, always seemed to have a pretty young girl offering help and assistance. He sailed with what he had, navigated as best he could and used his sea sense to warn him of danger (sometimes it didn’t work very well, but he learned to listen closer). Moitessier sailed what he had, his habit was the sea not the boat on the sea. His lesson is one of not losing sight of the horizon because of gear or lack of gear; money or lack of financial support to sail. His lesson is sail for the trip not the destination. It is a lesson in life as well.