“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”
― Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows
Chris’ final entry: This all started because I randomly replied to a posting on Loren’s Facebook page about 3 week’s before that described what he was about to embark on by joining The Mystic Crew for leg 2 of the trip down the Atlantic Coast and me saying if there was ever an opportunity, I would love to be considered.
As the saying goes “Be careful what you wish for”!! I had no idea what lay ahead of me and it showed as I started preparing for the trip. Talk about overpacking and letting a little lack of knowledge make a person paranoid. I have never been scared to get on a boat in my life, nor have I have doubted my abilities, but this was certainly going to be the test of my life. My first impression of the boat was “she’s kinda small to be out on the ocean”, but after talking with Don about what he had done aboard her, I decided to trust that we were good to go. Between Don, Loren and Tim there could not have been a more welcoming and understanding crew put together to welcome this “Stinkpotter” to the sailing family. They explained everything we were doing (more then once when needed) and why we were doing it. When I made a mistake, they helped me rectify it and there was no judgement, just teaching. I thank all of you and you will never know just how much you impressed me with your knowledge and camaraderie. The fact that you also welcomed my input and trusted me when considering options made me feel like a real member of The Team.
Although we ended up “playing” in wind and waves that I would never attempt to take a powerboat out in, there was never a time that I wasn’t confident that we were cruising along just fine. There are many things from the trip that I will never forget:
Cruising with tons of Dolphins for 3-4 hours in 10-12 foot waves
Mystic heeling over so far that I was standing on the vertical side of the cockpit seat
Watching Don, Loren and Tim sail Mystic with ease, but getting as excited as I did when we would hit a new top speed or we would hit an extremely large wave or swell.
Don showing the confidence in my abilities that he let me take Mystic into the harbor from the ocean and dock her at Amelia Island.
I feel so blessed to have been a part of this trip and I thank my crew for allowing me to be a part of it. My final quotes of the day
“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ship’s are built for” – John A. Shedd
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the winds in your sails. Explore, Dream, Discover” – Mark Twain
And Don’s observations: No one could have evolved into a sailor more quickly than did Chris. (He may have spoiled himself!). As a Charter Boat Captain in Chicago, Chris’ brought a boat-load of talent aboard: helmsmanship; seamanship; navigation; confidence; great attitude, eagerness to learn; calmness in rough times; fearlessness of the sea and a team spirit.
And he was like a sponge when it came to learning the art of sailing: proper sail trim for the conditions (or how to reduce power when Mystic was overpowered); reefing and hoisting the main; furling and unfurling the genoa and yankee; untangling lines the waves had twisted; how important a tether is when going forward as waves roll over the bow; cooking in a galley while healing 20 degrees and leaping off waves; how to sleep wedged against a bunk-board; and how eat without everything ending up on the floor!
I can’t wrap this page up without complimenting all the crew: Loren Thompson, a fine gentleman and a talented sailor. (Thank you for bringing Chris, Loren); Tim McKenna, whose focus, talent, ambition, and eagerness can not be overstated (Thanks, Mark). And all perfect companions for an arduous heavy air journey down the East Coast.
I know I will be forever grateful for the collegiality, competence and intense commitment Team I and Team II made to this trip. Thank you all for joining this adventure!
We won’t soon forget!
Signed: Mystic At Sea, Shannon 43/47 PH, truly a blue-water yacht!