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2200 Nautical Miles Later

Howell Hurst Uncategorized

San Diego, California, USA . . .
Skippering a 37-foot sailing vessel from San Francisco to La Paz, Baja, Mexico and return is a hard job. In February of 2015, I guided my boat, Wild Goose, under the Golden Gate Bridge and set course to Monterey, California, my first planned port of call. The lessons for a near octogenarian to learn on such a voyage exceeded anything I ever imagined.

I planned to sail to the Mediterranean. What interrupted the voyage after 16 months was an education. Believe me, an ocean sail by an almost 80-year-old to America’s immediate southern neighbor and return is by itself a rigorous experience. Mine produced disappointments I never expected, a few uniquely rare and rewarding moments, a deeper understanding of the world we inhabit, a renewed perspective of our unusual country, and – – – and the rest I am still straining to understand.

It is not simple to write about. Applying what I learned from the trip to a world going through an unusual transformation right now requires some energetic imagining. But, that is my point. I suspect the real change of the world is occurring inside us. I believe the result of our personal observations of the external world today – of that objective physical reality outside our heads, versus that individual subjective imagining of it inside our heads – is going to be the most important news event of the 21st Century.

Only 10,000 years ago did we humans begin to write and read about what we are feeling and thinking as participants of this miraculously improbable experience of life. As frenetically strange as it seems to be, I have a notion we may just finally be getting close to the point of vaguely knowing what it is all about – and possibly how to manage it to our mutual benefit and satisfaction. It is possible we may have actually learned something along the way.

I know that may appear to you an odd conclusion to draw from what daily seems a crazier and ever crazier world. And my sailing story may seem an unlikely place to find insights about the times we live in. But, consider: my story contains Mexican drug lords, multimillionaire moguls, guitar-playing hotel owners, uniquely bribed politicians and police officers, as well as poor fishermen and gentle old hand-laundry ladies fervently clinging to life in dusty Indian fishing villages. It may surprise you. It may even enlighten you.

I hope you stay with me as I attempt in my follow-up writings to describe how the past 16 months at sea provoked me to pull from my grey matter such bizarre convictions as I have. I believe you’ll find it a tantalizing vicarious sail on a part of the grand ocean that covers about 7/10ths of the surface of the planet we consider home, and commonly consider to be made of such solid earth.

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