Bluewater From Above: Pointed to the Horizon. Stars or Jellyfish?
Photo by Michael Sharp
There have been many milestones in our journey north, like buying the boat and moving aboard. Some milestones mark progress, like entering Canada and running our first major tidal rapid. Some milestones are predictable and often intimidating obstacles, like crossing the Columbia River Bar and the Gulf of Alaska–they are inevitable, they must be navigated to progress from point A to point B. Other milestones are not so apparent, they sneak up on you when you’re not looking, catching you unaware. Last night we crossed such a threshold. Susanna and I are in Anchorage to visit friends and run errands. Yesterday we picked up a copy of 48º North, a favorite sailing rag. And then it happened. I opened the cover to learn that one of the people we met in past year has died.
Captain Dan Bergin pulled into the Astoria marina a few days after we arrived. Dan and I spent a few days telling stories and sharing what we knew or didn’t know. He blew out his storm jib on his trip from San Francisco and I had ideas about how to fix it in a town like Astoria sans sail loft. Dan had crossed the Columbia River Bar several times and gave me sage advice and a helpful perspective for dealing with such an impending obstacle.
Then Dan’s students arrived, the jib aboard Papa was fixed and they sailed for points north. We knew that Dan offered Papa for charter and instruction in the San Juan Islands. As we traveled north, we kept a sharp weather eye for Papa and talked about how fun it would be to share an anchorage and tell more stories.
We have visited amazing places in the past year and a half, and seen things we could never imagine. We have met wonderful and inspiring people everywhere we go. They are an integral part of the narrative thread that is this adventure. When I lay in my bunk at night, I dream about the times we will arrive in some new port or anchorage and see a familiar boat and reconnect with the very fiber of this adventure.
We never did reconnect with Captain Dan. I had hopped to meet him again, to sit in the cockpit of Bluewater or Papa and tell sea stories. Dan ran a sailing school on his boat and encouraged me to get my captain’s license, something I think of often as my love of the sea and boats grows.
So it is the age-old lesson we must learn over and over: You never know who you will meet today and you never know what lies over the horizon. There is no way to prepare for every milestone or know what way the wind will blow. So you better go, because you will see nothing just sitting there.
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