Images and words by Rachel Harris “Excuse me Mister. You going to pay for protection if you stay here”- a local Indonesian official muttered in broken English. “The hell I won’t. If you come near my boat, just know I’ve got knives.” – the very clearly angry Aussie on the catamaran anchored next to us. “We’ve…
This trip was more than perfect wind and bombing sets; it was about something bigger, something way more profound than finding an untouched wave in flawless conditions. This trip was about the urgency of our warming Earth and supporting the women who are willing to devote not only their careers, but their entire lives to making a difference.
From 2006 to 2018 the “Best Odyssey” and then the “Cabrinha Quest” sailed over 160,000 nautical miles from the Fjords of Patagonia to Palau, from the tip of South Africa to the Outer Hebrides and to all the special little nooks and crannies in between. We’ve visited more than 100 countries and there’s a pretty solid chance we’ve kited, surfed, dove, and paraglided more virgin locations than…well maybe anyone! These have been fantastic adventures but also hard miles on our treasured vessel and as such she was deserving of some serious love and attention.
Life is all about unexpected events but life onboard Discovery exceeded our imagination, taking us on the craziest journeys we couldn’t have even dreamt of. Our final step off Discovery marks the end of an epic adventure and turned out to be yet another story to tell…
I asked her to do this because I knew I wouldn’t have the words to describe, to explain, to illustrate what the expedition has meant to us, or to those who have joined along the way. Of course photos are only a slice of the picture, a fabulous collage pieced together somewhat magically and very haphazardly as we slowly worked our way around the world. There’s been a plentiful supply of blood, pain, laughter, disappointments, discoveries, and of course moments that are too special to ever try to represent with words.
A curse and blessing of our times is the speed at which we can move about the planet. I often think it must be terribly hard for our guests to negotiate the distances and logistics required to get to the boat, then get their mind in a place where they can actually really BE on the boat rather than thinking about work, children, pets, bills and all the distractions and nuances of daily life. Then suddenly just as they are getting into the groove, just as those layers of “home” are wearing off and the need to fire up the blackberry or Iphone are beginning to fade they find themselves at the airport and it all comes rushing back in, like a spinning tempest.
I met a number of people on the docks in Falmouth and Dublin who kept saying the same thing when I told them where we were heading. “You’re crazy! Well, it will be beautiful, but you’re crazy!” Stories of horrendous midges (sand flies), storms, freezing water, huge tides that created vicious whirlpools and radical overfalls. I have to admit I was feeling like maybe I’d made a big mistake taking us this far from our usual tropical environs. I’d learned to sail in the Pacific Northwest so I felt reasonably confident the skills required to keep people safe this far north would come back to me, but that was a long time ago…
Discovery does not hold a lot of fuel. Our range, which is greatly influenced by current, wind and seas, is about 900 miles in perfect conditions, well short of the distance on a standard ocean passage. Our forecast as we left Cape Verde for the 1200 mile trip north showed almost no wind at all. Simple math meant we’d either have to get some wind, or we’d be doing some sitting around in the middle of the ocean. But no wind does have its benefits. For one, Jody actually gets to enjoy being at sea. Usually the passages for her are synonymous with suffering and I too admit that as the years have gone by my indifference to seasickness seems to be wearing off.
I’ve been trying to write our final log of the Cape Verdes for over a month now. It’s not that I can’t remember what happened, and it’s not that I don’t have a story to tell. I experienced some of the most magical days of my life in those dry islands off the west coast of Africa and I’d like to describe how that feels.
A few days before the tsunami hit Japan and the horrors that followed life on board Discovery seemed to be almost on autopilot. Cape Verde had been serving up heaping platters of wind and waves and while my list of projects had grown beyond the boundaries of our “to do” whiteboard, none of them were all that critical. Well, other than replacing a prop, which had mysteriously fallen off. A three thousand dollar rather critical component vanished to the sea floor.