At exactly this moment three years and three months ago, I was heading on a night-long trip down the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal aboard the 125′ schooner LIBERTY CLIPPER. This was the first leg of what would become a two-week journey of 1,000 miles–from NYC to Charleston–that was the realization of a lifelong dream. I was in my sixth month of unemployment, had a mortgage that was severely under water, and was dealing with a plumbing disaster that took out half my kitchen and required a complete replacement of the water pipes in my house. I had saved for that trip for three years, and planned it for one, so, through those challenges, I kept saying, “I am going on this cruise, come hell or no water!”
And I did. With the house restored to bare drywall, I left my young adult children with no running water in the kitchen, and kept my promise to myself. I took the bus to NYC and got on that boat. The rest was pure magic: standing watch through sunsets, moon rises, starshine, sunrises, moonsets, clouds, rain, brisk wind and still air. I learned how to steer a schooner, drank porter with the captain and crew at a Baltimore pub called the Wharf Rat, enjoyed participation in the Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race, woke in the middle of the night as the ship hit her top recorded speed, overcame my fear of heights long enough to go aloft to the top of the main mast, took on the infamous Cape Hatteras with a grin, watched dolphins riding the bow wave, marveled at the flight of flying fish, rode waves so tall that they broke across the ship and coated everything and everyone in salt rime, and found myself the subject of the crew’s spontaneous champagne toast at sail’s end.
Tonight I am smiling with the memory of that cruise, fondly remembering each crew member who made my trip a pleasure, and how I was invited to continue on to the Bahamas, but could not, since I did not have a passport. Even more, I am smiling at the anticipation of my next cruise, to which I have committed. I am taking another two-week tall ship sail this spring–in the Bahamas!–No. Matter. What. I giggle each time I think about it, laugh for no obvious reason, walk around singing, and people look at me like I am crazy. So be it. I. Am. Going. No. Matter. What.