>The Distance to Here

..Clouds skidding by a crescent moon, showers of illuminated spray, a rumbling ocean, an overworked windvane, “Mai Miti” is being sent.
Braced in the cockpit, my hands gripping the twin stainless hand-holds either side of the hard dodger, my leeward foot is locked horizontally to the motion and there’s an abundance of miles to be had. With half a furled jib and scrap of mainsail, “Mai Miti” forges across a million wavetops reveling the hard thirty-knot breeze by throwing aside blankets of exploding spray and foam.
I can’t help but think if I were aboard an Open 60 that could make upwards of 400 miles a day solo with these conditions. That would be 2,300 miles to Mauritius in 6 days with an easy 350-mile a day average versus the 17 it would take on Mai Miti. Something akin to a 300% increase in speed and power! But for the price of a million dollars.
I’m a hopeless romantic and slave to progress.
To rip across this ocean on the fastest wind powered solution that technology permits would be finding the harmony of Jonathan Livingston Seagull.
To see the Great Wandering Albatross dashing over the wave-tops in the height of a gale is the meaning of perfection to me.
One day in the not distant future, a French 15-year-old female model with a background of cruising experience to bear would embark with a Formula-1 Open 60 program to boot and obliterate the record in three months, perhaps finishing before her 16th birthday! Of this I have no doubt. My future daughter ?! For me, becoming the youngest to circle was the means to find my way back to the sea and myself.
At this writing, “Orange 2’s” crewed 50-day circumnavigation mark is reality. Bruno Peyron did much to further ignite my imagination when I crewed on his global promotional tour for “The Race” to Tahiti. Crewing aboard the first Jules Verne Trophy winning – “Commodore Explorer” that circumnavigated in 79-days spoke volumns to me about the future of sailing.
The day the local Hawaiians can embrace this future will be a revolution. There is a tremendous interest in the exploits of the traditional wood sailing canoes that colonized the islands from Polynesia. To correlate this love with the horizon of a new day will create a whole new generation of seamen and foster the dreams of speed in the minds of the islands’ racing teenagers weaned off cult movies such as “The Fast and the Furious and “Blue Crush”.
If you took “Club Med”, “Orange 2” or any 700+ mile a day multihull back in “the day”, of the voyaging canoes and clipper ships- they wouldn’t say-
“No, we’ll stick with our 100-mile a day relic and run out of provisions again to honor tradition!” I don’t think so. It’s not too difficult to imagine how fast they’d embrace evolution with eyes wide open.
So it’s with these thoughts I nursed Mai Miti onwards. I think sailing around the world alone is more a voyage toward yourself and the 27,000-mile geographical course is simply ‘the distance to here’. The longer it is, the harder it gets, the more it teaches you about yourself.
To me this abundance of geography is bliss. But ignorance can be bliss too. This lifestyle is nothing short of a curse. It’s no less potent than a drug. Once you’ve been down this watery road there is no turning back.
Life ashore resigns you to long for and dream for the day when you can find liberation and your way back to the mermaid. Life becomes oriented to scheming for the places, hardships, gales, sunsets, beaches and memories of faraway exotic ports and moments.
At least the people that haven’t experienced it don’t know what they’re missing. In Buddhism they say that all human suffering is caused by desire and longing. But that said, much as the saying about it being better “to have loved and lost than not to have seen a new port and said goodbye or not to have loved at all”, I agree.
bj caldwell

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