With the New year came lovely weather so Dad and I sailed off to tour the outer islands. On our various passages over the next week, the ocean showed us a bit of everything. We had a glorious 15 knots on the stern quarter, some squally 30 knot upwind slogging, rain and rainbows, gusts and lulls, and even spotted a waterspout! Every type of condition seemed to thrill the ‘Dadmiral’, it didn’t matter, he just loved to be at sea. Swell seemed happy to be underway, too, performing for her honored guest. “She takes off like a racehorse through the water!” he’d exclaim as a gust sent us bounding forward.
I leapt about trimming the sails to show off Swell’s sailing prowess. I’d often blink my eyes and re-open them…”Yep, he’s really here with me!?!” I told myself more than once…Right there in the cockpit sat the man who was highly responsible for this wild dream and its fruition… Without his constant support and encouragement from the time I was a wee deck rat in lifejacket who didn’t know a halyard from a dock line, I would never have made it this far…My father ALWAYS told me, “You can do it.”
It didn’t matter what it was—long division, driving stick-shift, captaining a boat, changing engine oil, riding waves, or sailing across the Pacific—He always said, “Yes, you can, and I will support you.” Driving or flying off on surf trips, or to the mountains for the weekend, or sailing his boat out to the islands with my college friends…I look back now and think he must have been mad to let me do all those things! And he hasn’t stopped. Look at me now!? And moreover, whenever the going gets tough, whenever I’m down or tired or doubting myself, my father listens patiently and with his fullest attention, then bestows his constant wisdom, and reassures me once again, “Yes, you can do it, Sweety. You don’t have to at all, but I know you can.” Whether or not I believe in myself, his profound belief in me makes all the difference. In the critical moments, when everything becomes instinctual and reactionary, I always feel his strength and wisdom in me. He’s got my back, no matter what happens, and it’s that notion that counts when you live alone at the will of nature and your wits. Not a mile or minute of the thousands I’d spent aboard Swell did I not feel him right there beside me.
And there we were sailing together, the open sea restoring our souls! I felt so grateful that everything seemed to shine! Divine were the dancing sunbeams all around and the velvet trades on our cheeks. And the neon blue ripples extending to the unbroken horizon. Divine were the erupting cumulus domes trotting across the sky above. Divine the seabirds looping and swirling in the squalls and the gusts that made Swell lean on her rail. And divine was our vessel!–A gliding conglomeration of both our love, labor, and luck. And the miracle of all these elements at work, holding her 30 degrees to the wind–the ropes and sails, shackles and cables, struts and stainless, and nature’s force and physics that propelled us toward ‘that one particular harbor’!
Yes, it was…Divine was every moment with my father in the South Pacific. Because we see the ocean’s beauty and magic the same. And because he’s not only the best father in the whole world, but he’s also a best friend. We laughed from sun up to sun down; I never tire of his company!—the repetitive jokes, his ridiculous span of knowledge, impeccable memory, humble presence, open mind, propensity to try anything, and his inexhaustible positivity!! Together on the sea, or at anchor in the turquoise lagoon, eating papaya breakfasts, whizzing off on a dinghy adventure, troubleshooting a boat project, or cherishing the crescent moon–it couldn’t have been a more precious and wonderful time on my voyage, and in my life…
Thank you, a million times over, for being with me, and being YOU, Dad!!!!!