It truly does. “Andanza” is Spanish for “adventure.” The minute Captain Yannick told me this, I knew it was the perfect boat for me to jump aboard to sail across the Atlantic. And, the entire adventure — from our breath-taking blue water days, to our troubling times dealing with equipment failure, even to the 3:00 a.m watches — have been truly eye-opening. I find myself trying to answer a lot of big life questions during my night shifts, particularly those where we had to hand-steer.
While I mourned the loss of auto-pilot and sympathized with Yannick’s dilemma in having to stop his journey to replace it, as well as fund the project, I will never regret the fact that I had to hand-steer the boat for a short amount of time. I know I would not have experienced that feeling otherwise. Up until the point he gave out, we had been (rightfully, as he is far better at it than we are) allowing the auto-pilot to hand-steer the boat every minute of every day. Had he not failed, I am sure we would have let him steer us all the way to the channel and breakwater in France. If this had occurred, I would not have had the privilege to truly feel the boat diving into waves, skidding and careening across the ocean. This feeling was only possible with my hands cinched on the leather of the wheel, guiding the boat gently left and right along our rhumb line. It was a bit of a majestic feeling, particularly at night and it gave me hours of time to think about what this trip has meant to me. I imagined one of the most common questions I would get (perhaps from Andy Schell during my interview!) when I returned would be: “What did you truly take away from the trip?” As I pushed the wheel right to left, watching our heading of 110 degrees hour upon hour, I tried to formulate — for my own benefit and in order to share with others — a truly valid answer. This is what I surmised.
Ocean crossing is simple. Sailing is really very, very simple. Cruising is simple. You have a certain skill set — knowledge of your vessel and the things you need to monitor, repair and maintain to keep it healthy and capable coupled with knowledge of the wind and coming weather patterns (via the water, clouds and colors of the sun or information provided by today’s impressive electronics, either way) — which you apply to the situation at hand. That is all you have to do. That is all you have to worry about: your boat and what it needs to endure. After that, there are no pressing deadlines, no people to please or disappoint, no due dates, no briefs to file, no bills to pay. Many of those things will likely greet you when you make it to shore, but they cannot reach you out there. In a vast body of blue, it is only the wind, your sails, your hull and your hunger, for food, books or philosophy. Your only real stress is what you’re going to read or eat next and that is really a rather fun choice to make. The simplicity of it is truly freeing.
While I am thrilled to be on this journey, savoring every minute, I am also excited to get back and begin trying (to the best of my creative ability) to capture and re-create it for you. I have been diligently keeping a running log as we’ve been going, which recounts in mere clips and phrases (just enough to remind me) of the events, stories and mishaps we have experienced along the way, and that alone is already 60 pages single-spaced. I have hours of footage and hundreds of photos. It is overwhelming now to even think of how to begin, but it is an invigorating challenge as creating content for this website is one of my absolute passions. I’m eager to begin scaling this creative mountain! But first, I’m eager to finish this voyage. More to come my friends. We have many stories to tell!