Andanza Means Adventure

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!

4 thoughts on “Andanza Means Adventure

  • True, the technical part of sailing and cruising isn’t that complicated. And if it gets complicated, there’s a good chance that you’re in deep trouble anyway.

    What makes crossing oceans a challenge is how well you can take the solitude and the mind-numbing tasks to insure your safety. In the middle of the ocean, trying to escape from yourself or the rest of the crew usually ends in a bad way.

    • Popsi! As it seems you often do … you hit the nail on the freaking head. I’m excited to write up a post soon on what I found to be the primary challenges of the passage and let’s just say you’re right, the sailing was a very little sliver of what can often really worry, scare or frustrate you along the way. You seem to know your stuff!

  • Annie,I am glad to see you are home and safe. The last I heard you were in the Azores waiting on repairs. Reminded me some what like Gilligan Island, a three week tour became what 5-6 weeks. You really couldn’t have picked a more beautiful place to lay over. I had a client that I restored a few cars for that lived there and had to do some work for him there, life’s tough for some of us. I warned you about those horrible people you meet at the marinas, first they get you on board for a day sail then a weekend and then the crossing conversation comes up. The challenge of crossing an ocean, the solitude, simple sail with the autopilot, oops. I am sure you get my drift. You added to your passport stamps and that is a step in the right direction. I can hardly wait to hear what you learned on this crossing. Every crossing is good and bad, that is a given but it is what you take away from it that is the most important. I have a few friends that have sailed all over this planet and the one thing they all agree on is the sailing part is the easiest part of a trip.

    • Hey Uncle Muir! What a candid and insightful comment, thank you. I wholeheartedly agree and have spent the better part of last week telling many people that — the sailing was the easiest part. For the most part the boat sailed herself. While the sails and rigging definitely worried us, they didn’t work us. Much more on that later. Agree with you as well about the Azores. While the circumstances of why we stopped were not ideal, Phillip and I will be forever grateful that things happened the way that they did and that it gave us an entire week on that picturesque island. We met so many interesting and culture-rich people, we ate SUCH great foods and walked the oldest cobble-stoned streets I have ever set foot on. Every day was an adventure there. Truly a unique place and one Phillip and I intend to return to during our crossing. I’m working now on the first chapter of the Atlantic-Crossing blog with you in mind Muir! I’m glad you’ve enjoyed following along!

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