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2/10/2013 2:06 PM
It is a difficult feeling to express. There are still better than 7,500 nautical miles between me and Texas. Yet, somehow I know that as soon as I let lose the dock lines this time my trip is effectively over. It started more than four years ago now and only the Atlantic, Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexico stand between me and a return to the exact same place I started from. The rest of the world has been left standing in my wake.
True, there are many, many interesting places between South Africa and the Gulf of Mexico. To name but a few, St. Helena, Ascension, Brazil, Antilles, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, and the Caymans. One could easily spend another year or more hopping between islands. I can only explain it like this. If you know you are about to rip off a band-aid do you do it in the slowest possible manner? No, this is no band-aid, but I am still eager to start the next chapter of this life. So close to home and having covered so many miles Caribbean Islands just don’t hold the appeal for me like places I’ve already visited.
Looking at it another way, the Caribbean and all its islands are only short hops from the Gulf Coast. It took me nearly a year to cover the miles from Mexico down to Panama and Colombia. Looking at that distance now it is not even a weeks sail. My perspective has changed. On many things.
I know that I’ve accomplished nearly everything that I am going to accomplish with this voyage. There is still great pleasure in exploring new places, but I am not learning nearly as much or as frequently as I was in the first few years. I know sailing will always be a part of my life, but it is time to spice things up with new challenges.
To that end, it is time for me to return home. Home all the way inland to Missouri where my father and I will begin operating a hay operation where once there was only fallow ground. It is a chance to work with my hands, the soil, heavy equipment, and gain the satisfaction of building something for myself and for my family. This is where the confusion of emotions comes into play. For the excitement I have for the new beginning, but also at the end of such a long, difficult, and mostly wondrous voyage.
I’ve no little doubt that acclimating to life on land will be one of the largest challenges in my life to date. Looking at the bureaucracy involved in life on land makes me want to up anchor and retrace my steps in the opposite direction. I also know that following that course will not provide satisfaction. This won’t be an easy transition, but it is one that I want and am ready to make.
Knowing this is my last epic sail for what is probably many years to come I want to make it exactly that, epic. I’ve spent three weeks at sea both on the Pacific crossing and rounding western Sumatra. That is nothing compared to the 40+ days I am contemplating going direct from South Africa to St. Martin. Exploring the small islands along the way feels like something I should do. Going to sea to cover thousands of miles across the Atlantic is something I want to do.
You never can tell what will happen. I may get near land and decide it is time to pull in for a beer and a cheeseburger. I may get into such a groove that I’ll go direct all the way to Isla Mujeres in Mexico where I will close my circumnavigation loop. I make no promises as life makes none to us. Early on Tuesday the 12th I’ll let go my lines in the southeastern hemisphere and when I stop again I’ll be back in the northwestern. That is four times across the equator.
I’ve rigged my HAM radio to be able to post both to twitter and my blog. The frequency of post will depend both on my mood and how well the radio signal propagates from mid-Atlantic Ocean. If you want me to post and I haven’t done so, don’t fret, just wait a little longer. See you in the Caribbean.
Shark Cage Diving from Lee Winters on Vimeo.
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