Around The World Voyage : Commentary

January 6, 2002 (local)

Passage from Chuuk to Yap

Day 5

First sight.

A hundred times I have heard these words and seen this sight. The first time was as a kid on my dad's sailboat on the way to Catalina. My dad at the helm, seven of us kids and my mom on board, each more excited than the next to see the island. It was only a 30 mile crossing to the island, but it didn't matter. We all wanted to be the one, the first, who got to yell it out. Years later I would be at the helm, and my daughter Crystal, all bundled up at my side, eyes straining forward through the cool morning haze, looking, looking. Suddenly she gasps, tugging on my shirt with one hand and her little finger pointing forward with the other and she yells out, "There it is! I see it!" "No," I said, smiling down at her. "You have to say the words." She lets out a little giggle and yells, "Land Ho!" as the silhouette of the mysterious island came into view.

I have seen a hundred landfalls and heard a hundred "Land Ho's" since then, but the thrill is still there. A little different each time, but your heart still skips a beat when you first see land again after loosing sight of her, even for just a few hours, a few minutes. When you hear it today, coming from the pilot house or deck it is said in fun, but you just can't resist saying it. It's somehow in our blood, woven into out hearts from a thousand books - from a thousand movies. It has the ring of adventure to it and everyone on board wants to be first, the first to see it. Whether it be just across the bay or across the mighty Pacific - different emotions are stirred as land comes into view. From relief that the crossing has been made, pride in a little one's first voyage, the joy of seeing home and family again, the excitement of a fresh start and what may lie ahead… to the sadness of a journey at its end. It's these things and more that keep us headed beyond our shores and it's these things that have us climbing the mast and looking ahead to the next.

In every sailing adventure, be it in a book or in a movie, fact or fiction, there is the captain on deck, crew at hand, all looking to the masthead as "Land Ho" sounds down through the rigging. The lookout high above points off the starboard bow at a distant shore, a new land, a new beginning, an adventure that lays waiting. This was where the story really started…a search for riches or for glory of king and country. In the end - truth be told, it is always for the girl. It was all there, just up ahead…and it still is today.

Each time you go out, whether fishing for the day, a weekend sail or to some far off harbor, coming back to land marks a new beginning, a new start. Make of it what you will.

I look back on that first crossing with my dad. He was my hero - our captain at the helm with treasure chart in hand, guiding our ship across the high seas. Someone yells out, and there dead ahead lies not Catalina but a Pirate Island. It was a lot for a little kid.

I wonder what Crystal was thinking, with me, years later on her first passage.


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