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Sailust | Bon Voyage

Bon Voyage

Friday, October 17th, 2008

I’m finally doing it. I’m getting on a 55′ Catamaran and sailing down to Cabo San Lucas. I found a crew list posting online at Latitude 38 and found a skipper that would take me. The vessel is called Crystal Blue Persuasion and she will be accompanied by 200 other boats, starting in San Diego, as part of the annual Baja Haha rally.

There are many ways to travel and I’ve done most of them: airplanes, cars, trains, buses, and bicycles. All that leaves is motorcycles, boats and hot air balloons. Boating (more specifically, sailing) is probably the least popular method of transportation due to its expensive and inconvenient nature. It is also the most romantic (or so I’m hoping). Being propelled without motor on the open ocean and nobody and nothing but who and what’s on the boat. Historically sail boats were the only efficient way to transport cargo and men would labor on them for a meager wage. Now sailboats are toys and men sail them for recreation, paying for the opportunity.

I first learned to sail in 2001 when I took sailing lessons at Mission Bay with my dormitory suitemate. Neither of us had a car so we rode the 34 bus down La Jolla Shores Drive to Mission Bay. We got off at Santa Clara point and walked to the Mission Bay Aquatic Center, a rec center set up for the area colleges. The first type of boat I sailed was a Sabot, which our instructor described as a “bathtub”. I think he was describing the shape of it because a real bathtub would sink. It’s a simple boat with only one sail. Anyone sailing in one looks a little foolish but it helped me learn the points of sail and how to steer using a rudder and tiller. After some more classes we moved up to a larger boat, the Holder 14, which has a jib and centerboard. We also went out on a Hobbiecat once or twice.

Mission Bay Aquatic Center didn’t have any keel boats. Or if they did, they were few and we couldn’t take them out. And if we did, we would be sailing in Mission Bay, which used to be a marsh called False Bay until it was dredged and renamed somthing more marketable. Looking at the bay, this makes sense. It’s peculiarly shaped, shallow and still murky.

Once we finished our basic and advanced sailing classes at MBAC, my friend found out about the Navy sailing center in Point Loma. Since my dad’s a retired army officer, I had a US Armed Services ID card that gave me access to military bases and their facilities. They had Catalina 22′ and 27′ boats for rent, but we would have to complete their training program to take them out. We took the courses and started sailing in San Diego Bay.

There were countless days in the office at my old job where I sat in my swivel chair wondering, “Is this as good as it gets?” I won’t restate the tragedy of offices and office drones because it’s been done before and I’m sure you have a first hand experience in such an environment. My anxiousness got so bad that I convinced myself that the most foolish thing that I could do was NOT quit my job and go sailing. When I told my dad my plans, he pondered a bit and said, “I think it was Thoreau who said, ‘Most men live their lives in quiet desperation.'” He was right. Up to that point I had been living my life in quiet desperation, taking the safe route that I’m supposed to take instead of the fun, risky route that I dream about when I’m sitting in a meeting pretending that I’d still be in the room even if I wasn’t getting a paycheck.

Not exactly a year ago, a good friend of mine, Bridget O’Brien was killed in a car accident with her husband. She was driving her husband’s band, the Electric Jellyfish, through Ohio when she swerved to miss a deer. She was an inspiration to everyone who had the luck to meet her. This became blatantly apparent from reading her memorial website and attending her funneral where there weren’t enough seats in the chapel for bereaved to sit. I am still shaken by her death and inspired by her life. She died doing what she loved and saw more of the world at 26 than many people see in their entire life. Her death taught me that life is short and it’s never too late to seek adventure regardless how crazy it may be or how old think you should behave. I know I am making her proud, but I’m doing it in my typical slow style.

I have no ties. I have no car, no mortgage, no girlfriend, no kids. I barely have any furniture. And what I have only has utility value to me; I couldn’t sell it to anyone for an amount that’s worth my while to arrange a sale. One girl I told this to looked at me with a frown and said, “That’s sad.” I think I planned it that way, though.

I’m going to miss all my family and friends, especially during the holidays. To this, I say, you always have to miss something. There’s no doing anything where you’re not missing out on something else. I would say I can catch everyone when I get back, but after Bridget’s death, I realize it’s not a safe assumption, but it’s a pleasant one so we’ll leave it at that. And San Francisco. I will miss San Francisco. But she too will always be here with her buildings and her bums and her jobs.

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