“Outward Bound” – The Journey of a Lifetime

Outward Bound… when a ship leaves the security of its harbor, pointed beyond the horizon to lands far away. As I write this, Bodacious Dream sits patiently in Wellington Harbor, New Zealand – both of us ready and looking forward to heading outward bound later this week just as soon as the cyclone east of us settles down and moves away, opening the route to another adventure that will ultimately bring us back into northern waters and home to Jamestown, Rhode Island by the middle of this coming summer.

Bodacious Dream
BoDream harbor-bound in Wellington

hiobs_150As I prepare to head outward bound once again, I remember an earlier time in my life. The year was 1978 and I was a 20 year old, free-spirited young man. It was summer and I was headed east to Rockland, Maine to attend a 28-day course sponsored by Hurricane Island Outward Bound School (HIOBS) among the rocky islands of Penobscot Bay off the coast of Maine. As I left Chicago on a plane to Boston, I really felt outward bound, pulled away from the comforts of my life, the security of home, the known paths of my hometown of Chesterton, Indiana and off in search of adventure and carrying the hope of getting to know more of the person that I knew was somewhere hidden there inside of me.

Hurricane Island
An Island of Discoverable Treasures

Just as it happens each time I leave harbor aboard Bodacious Dream, within hours my land-based life falls behind me and disappears and my onboard life begins again. So it was that shortly after arriving at the Hurricane Island Outward Bound School, I found myself in a new world – a world full of excitement, challenges, among pine-studded rocky islands and laughing, adventurist comrades.

For 28 days, we bounded along rocky shores and climbed cliffs, ran trails and swam in the cold waters of the bay, sailed open boats beyond the horizon and hauled our personal selves to new levels of confidence, skills and self-reliance. We laughed, got mad, grew very tired and hungry, became cold from the water and warmed by the sun, we ate new foods and pushed ourselves beyond limits we didn’t even know existed, only to then touch new limits  even beyond those. We were outward bound in every sense of the word … out beyond our old lives and old limits, out discovering what more of what we were and what more we could be … and give.

Dave as a ladBefore I began this circumnavigation journey with Bodacious Dream, I asked the folks at Hurricane Island Outward Bound School if I could place their name on the sides of the boat in honor and respect to the spirit and ethos of the school. Though my dream to sail around the world single handed was born years before I had heard of Outward Bound or ever attended a Hurricane Island course, the experience of learning that I had the ability not only to pursue my dreams, but to accomplish them as well – that grew out of my experiences at the school. It was there that I realized for the first time that there really were no limits that could prevent me from reaching my dreams.

HIOBSAt some point in our lives, we all find ourselves stalled. Maybe we are young and fresh out of school and haven’t yet found our passion. Maybe we are older and our day-to-day worlds have become stale, or maybe we are just long for new horizons, experiences and change. If you were to ask me what to do about this, my instantaneous response would be to get online, look at the catalog of courses of Hurricane Island Outward Bound School, choose one and sign up – they’re not all 28 days long, some are as short as a week! Trust me … it’s a life changing experience and the stuff you learn will stay with you the rest of your life. It will help to define you, embolden you and set you apart.

I’ve been lucky enough to learn many interesting and unexpected things throughout my life. I would have to attribute much of that ability to advance towards and embrace such experiences, to lessons I learned about life and myself while at Hurricane Island.

So, as Bodacious Dream and I sit here patiently in Wellington Harbor waiting for the hurricane to pass and to open up another door of experience for us, I hope you will find it fun to remember a time in your life when you too were headed Outward Bound… on a new job, a faraway travel, a new dream or the beginning of a new life. Ah, the memories of a lifetime … the memories that fill the sails of a Bodacious Dream.

– Dave and Bodacious Dream

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So Spill the Pleasures of Life

Screen shot 2013-10-28 at 12.44.47 PM:: LATEST NEWS: MONDAY AM – 10.28.13 – I pulled into the trade winds Sunday morning, and have since been sailing with them. Windy and bumpy conditions are making it hard to write anything. Lots of squally conditions that require constant attention to the boat. At present, I’m about 1100 miles from my first waypoint. Click the image on the right (or the link here) to follow our path on a fun site called Spot Adventures!

So, going back a few days and catch up on a few things …

:: FRIDAY AM – 10.25.13  Early Friday morning, the wind shut down as predicted by our weather gurus, and I had to turn on the motor and begin working my way south toward the trade winds … approximately 240 miles away. Initially, we moved through water which had this weird oily slick on it … not a breath of air anywhere – a kind of surreal stillness overall.

Oily Water
Oily Looking Water
– 50.4135W, 28.4361N

I motored all day Friday and for a while after sunset, when a hint of wind began to fill in. I thought perhaps I had gotten lucky and the trade winds had come north to meet me! So, I set the sails and enjoyed a night of gentle sailing to the southeast and towards my waypoint! It was easy sailing, which made napping through the early morning hours unusually comfortable … until near sunrise. At that point, the wind shifted more to the south and a sky full of squalls began developing to the southeast.

The first set of squalls missed us and I began to feel left out, as I was looking forward to another fresh water rinse. We did catch the edges of the last couple of squalls and we did get rinsed off some. You could see though that this fun would be short-lived, and soon enough fairer skies returned along with calmer winds. So it goes … puffed by the winds, rebuffed by the winds … the ways of the sea and Mother Nature … asking you to make progress in whatever way she allows. By sunset, with the winds diminishing even more, I returned to motor sailing.

Still Blue Water
Still Blue Water – 50.5058W, 28.6860N

Once I get into the trade winds, I should be able to sail pretty much in the direction I want at a pretty positive pace which should have me crossing the equator and entering the southern Atlantic Ocean towards the end of the week. I certainly hope so! At less than 100 miles a day, it feels right now as though Cape Town is a couple of years away!

Hurrican Island Outward Bound School:: RECALLING THE DAYS: Frustration in the face of nature is a constant in any sailor’s life. I remember back in the late 1970’s when I was working with one of our now sponsors, Hurricane Island Outward Bound School, that a big part of our “curriculum” and our experience was working through frustrations each and every day we were out on the water.

Putting everyday people into situations that required them to collectively problem-solve, overcome fears, and work past the fatigue and irritation can push you to your limit, but in the end anyway … leave you with many grand memories and life lessons. It usually took a week or so for everyone on the course to come to grips with being always tired and worn out, always a bit hungry, always a bit dirty but also always a bit closer to one’s core instincts and energies for life and survival.

I remember one particularly frustrating morning, rowing the pulling boats all morning up the bay and then realizing we weren’t going anywhere, because the tide was flowing in as fast as we were rowing out. But once the tide changed, life for all of us changed as well … grumpy people turned funny, hungry people turned optimistic, tired people turned excited. And, let me tell you, dinner NEVER tasted so good.

A Golden Sunset

:: ONWARD WE GO: So, recalling the many hard-won lessons of that time, I look forward to following the changes in my own attitude once the winds start to take me where I want to go. When you come to be able to put the pluses and the minuses side by side, then you can better recognize and more fully appreciate the value of each. I mean, can you ever really know the pleasure of warm and dry, if you haven’t experienced cold and wet?

So it is, I’m thinking now about things like a frosty Pepsi, hot French fries, warm freshwater showers, soft places to sit … all those things … that float out there like reflections on the water … and in contrast with what is right in front of me. Out of this back and forth … spill the many pleasures of life. That’s another advantage to logging thousands and thousands of miles … you learn to hang in there, because you know that eventually, you’ll get where you’re going.

So, at the moment, I’m about halfway between the start in Newport, RI and my first waypoint heading into “the doldrums” … it’s about 1,400 miles each way now. That’s always a good feeling, hitting those halfway points! And, if the winds provide, I can make that distance in about a week. It would be nice to end October and start November in a new waters being pushed by new winds!

More when the seas settle down.

– Dave & Bodacious Dream
46.4851W, 23.2120N

Sails Hoisted … Heading East by Southeast

Well, we’re finally on our way heading east by southeast out of Bermuda. I slipped the dock lines at 14:20 Thursday afternoon and made my way out to the “SB” buoy (“Sea Buoy” is the first buoy marking the entrance to a harbor,) clear of the shallow reefs around the entrance to St. Georges Harbor and hoisted sail. I can’t tell you how good it feels to be Outward Bound! Such a great feeling one has when headed out to great experiences. In fact, there is a Hurricane Island Outward Bound School in Bermuda as well and they came and visited me while docked at the St. George Dingy and Sport Club.

The last few days before departure have been mostly uneventful, but Wednesday night brought its share of worrisome moments. The winds built up to a husky 25 to 30 knots and the harbor was all big bouncing waves. Fortunately, Bodacious Dream was docked in a good location, slightly away from the concrete pier, but any slight shift in a wind direction could have caused me problems. Needless to say, I slept very little as I turned and shifted too with the waves and the hum of the wind. Fortunately at about 03:00, the winds let up and the harbor settled down. By dawn, I was up to take care of the last bits of business before leaving.

Bermuda BernieBermuda was a great stopover and the people were extra accommodating and gracious.

Here’s a pic to the left of 82-year old Bernie, who set the tone by helping me out when I first arrived, and who I wrote about in my Day 7 post.

There have been about three or four of us single handers hanging around the harbor, all waiting for a weather window to leave and we all crossed paths this morning at the Custom’s Office … all of us checking out of Bermuda at the same time. The others though are heading south to the Caribbean, while I head east to Cape Town, South Africa.

I’ve been sailing on an “easy reach,” meaning the wind has been from the side of the boat and this makes for easy, quick sailing. This has given me a great chance to relax, catch up on the missed sleep and organize the boat some more. Unfortunately, the forecast suggests that today will be the best winds I’ll have for perhaps a week. But you know, any chance to go sailing and in the “general direction” I want to go … is plenty welcome at this point in time.

Near Bermuda

So, right now, the seas are a bit lumpy with leftover swells from the heavier winds of the past few days, so I’m not sure I’ll be able to get the KVH satellite connect back until the motion settles down some … but when it does, I’ll upload some photos and videos of leaving Bermuda.

Still looking for my first dolphin sighting. Hopefully they’ll show up soon and cast their magic upon our marvelous expedition.

And to be sure, you’re getting the major updates, sign up for the email list here!

Until later,

– Dave and Bodacious Dream

063.0835 W, 31.5983 N