Sunday, January 15, 2012

20 years ago

As Jim makes passage toward today's end-point on Long Key, I'm watching his progress via the SPOT link and remembering a passage we made together twenty years ago.  At that time we were sailing as representatives of the State of Delaware in the America 500 Quincentennary Rally, tracing Columbus' voyage of exploration to the new world.  We sailed our 35-foot sloop to Spain, with stops in Bermuda and the Azores along the way in 1991.  We then spent several months in Spain.  Following visits to many of the sites where Columbus had lived or visited, we then traced his route to a tiny island in the Bahamas, through Madeira, and the Canary Islands.  Along the way we met sailors from all over the world, including some from Finland with whom we still keep in touch.  It was an incredible experience and it's hard to believe that our voyage was 20 years ago. The entire trip took over a year, and we sailed over 10,000 blue-water miles.    Our navigational devices were certainly much more advanced than those which had been available to Columbus.  While on blue water crossings Jim does insist on the time-honored practice of taking celestial sights with his sextant and working out the boat's position manually.  We also had a sat-nav on that trip and a good chronometer (a Casio watch!).  Still, it was always necessary to be vigilant - to avoid shipping, partially submerged containers, etc..  Also, in some areas, electronic navigational devices are notoriously lacking in accuracy.  Today, with Jim in a canoe which is infinitesimally smaller than any previous boat in which he's gone to sea, I'm able to sit in comfort at home and watch his progress in great detail, thanks to a satellite a thousand miles up in space.  Jim carries a GPS and the SPOT device with him which gives me much comfort, but as always he also relies on charts, visual line of sight and common sense as well.  He's one dedicated person, seemingly with salt water in his bones, in one small boat, out on the briney, doing his thing, and seemingly having a ball.  Cheers from land-locked western Oklahoma to all who enjoy being on the water. 

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