Monday, March 5, 2012

The Art of Leaving

Over the last few weeks, a trickle of sailboats have been leaving Hobart for the trip across the Tasman Sea to New Zealand.

Some of these departing boats have been traveling for years, and for them the Tasman is one more in a series of crossings.

But for a couple boats we know, the trip to New Zealand has been the very first leg of a long-planned voyage.

One of these boats that was just starting out was Midnight Sun.  That's our friend Paul on board in the picture above, only 48 hours from departure.  Things in the cabin are looking a little...unsettled.

Another boat just setting out was Avenger.  That's Derrick on the left, who was one of the very first people we met when we first came to Hobart two years ago.  I took this picture a few days ago, just as he and his daughter and son-in-law-to-be and dog were leaving the dock and heading for New Zealand.  They look expectant and organized.

But if you saw the same boat two weeks earlier, when they welcomed us back to Tassie with a raft-up in Barnes Bay, you would have noticed that things were still not quite ready.  Like, for instance, the fact that the boom wasn't on the boat.

Getting a boat ready to leave home on a long trip is a nearly impossible task.  There are just too many things to prepare.  And when your shakedown trip is a passage as intimidating as a Tasman crosssing, leaving is even harder.

You can take a real flogging in the Tasman.  Which means that any short-cut in boat prep could have some bad-news repercussions.  And having that in the back of your mind makes it even more impossible to convince yourself that you're adequately prepared for the trip.

The answer, of course, is that you have to leave before you're ready.  You have to start your big trip at a point when any well-informed observer would estimate that you have somewhere between a week and a year of prep work still to go before you'll be ready.

That's more or less what these two boats did.  Midnight Sun is now safely in New Zealand, and on the way in their long-dreamed-of trip to Alaska.  And Avenger is, if not yet in New Zealand, then getting pretty close, as they left Hobart six days ago.

The marinas of the world are full of people who are fated to never get beyond the preparation stage for acting on their dreams of traveling under sail.  Good on these guys for making the jump when they did.

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