“The way you activate the seeds of your creation
is by making choices about the results you want to create.
When you make a choice, you mobilize vast human energies
and resources which otherwise go untapped.
All too often people fail to focus their choices upon results,
and therefore their choices are ineffective.
If you limit your choices only
to what seems possible or reasonable,
you disconnect yourself from what you truly want,
and all that is left is a compromise.”
- Robert Fritz
Having decided to circumnavigate, I began visiting the libraries to study the cruising yacht and the qualities that make for its seaworthiness. And frequenting the waterfronts in search of a suitable craft. In the following months I perused the marinas all along coastal southern California. After inspecting sailboats by the hundreds I managed to locate a few prospects, but none that aroused any real ardor.
One morning I stood wistfully admiring a CT-41 that an acquaintance had told me was for sale. This vessel was splendid in every respect, and would have fulfilled my every requirement - especially as her designer was the noted naval architect William Garden. Being forty-one feet on deck, though, she was considerably beyond my budget.
Suka is a CT-41 ketch with center cockpit, built by the Taiwanese company Ta Chiao. The boat was four years old when I discovered it.
A fellow I vaguely knew happened along, noticed my interest and stopped to talk. He related that he had nearly bought this vessel, but that a last minute dispute with the owner had stifled the deal. Perhaps unwittingly he mentioned the price they had come close to agreeing on. Remarkably, it was almost within my means! Astounded though I was, I managed to conceal my sudden interest, particularly as the gentleman could have been weaving an artifice. This did not seem the case, though, as I knew of his business reputation within the community, and that it was sound.
Not long after this enlightening conversation I sneaked aboard and searched the vacant yacht stem to stern. I found only a single shred of evidence: a first initial and last name penciled on a coat hanger, apparently by an employee of a dry-cleaning laundry. Visiting with a skipper aboard a nearby yacht, and casually dropping this last name, I learned that this was indeed the ketch's owner, and also in what city he lived. Then from a phone booth I dialed directory assistance, and obtained the fellow's telephone number.
Harry proved not only personable but also apparently eager to strike some kind of a deal. And because I went to the negotiating table with what was probably his lowest selling price, within a few days we had agreed on terms beneficial to us both. And what's more, after we had met in person I persuaded him to finance the sale. (And in the next few months I was able to pay off his loan by liquidating my accumulated business inventory.)
“Without a single exception I was treated as though suffering some kind of delusion”
As the ketch's new owner I fairly bristled with excitement and naturally began relating my plans of sailing-around-the-world to my parents, friends, and to my new neighbors at the marina. Without a single exception I was treated as though suffering some kind of grand delusion. The skepticism was so absolute, in fact, that it prompted me to keep my plans to myself from then on. And rightly so, for admittedly I had very little sailing experience, and although my sailboat had been built for the rigors of the sea, she was wholly unequipped - save for a full complement of frazzled dock lines.
Harry had recently completed an expensive exterior refurbishing, but in the four years since the vessel's construction he had rarely taken her from her berthing. So as new owner I began fitting the boat with a long list of gear needed to sustain long distance voyaging, and rebuilding whatever structural components seemed even remotely prone to failure. (The following page gives a list of my work over the next two years, getting ready for departure.)
My spouse of the past two years had been interested in my global sailing plans, but then one day she confided from the heart that she no longer wanted to go. I found this devastating. But then again, our relationship was becoming less than mutually beneficial with the passing of months. So, although it might seem callous on my part, I was not willing to abandon my plans for adventure on her behalf. After agonizing the matter for a few weeks and months, I decided that rather than try to change her mind - only to have her change it back at the first landfall - I would go alone. Even so, I had no departure date in mind, but only loose plans to set sail in a year or two. Meanwhile I continued making the ketch cruise-ready while generally carrying on with life.
One day I placed a newspaper want-ad; and after interviewing a dozen applicants I hired a secretary/shipping clerk to help with my increasing business's load. Jenny's proficiency soon afforded the boss more frequent opportunities to slip away from the office, and to work on some pressing project aboard ship. And in a few months she began spending the random sunny afternoon at the marina, dabbing at the yacht's brightwork, varnishing the wood trim. Being around boats was a novel experience for her, and one she seemed to enjoy. And with the passing of time she became interested in my sailing plans. So much so, that she eventually she tendered the suggestion that we join forces. The notion was unanimously and heartily adopted.
My ship gained a first mate on a full-time basis; I had to place another want-ad for a new secretary (Jenny was now occupied with boat-related projects); and my erstwhile spouse filed for a divorce.
Jenny and I hopped on a plane for Britain, where at a routine meeting with the principles of Wild Country, my parent company, Steve informed me that he had re-assigned my American distributorship to another firm of better underpinnings. With the company's best interests in mind, he had revoked my WC US distributorship.
“Standing back for a broader perspective...”
Meandering the cobbled streets of merry old England in confusion born of shock, I could hardly imagine, let alone accept the fact that I had lost my hard-won business. This was especially irksome because my distributorship had been marketing "Friends," a product of my own invention and patenting. The urge was strong to rebound with a significant design improvement of this product. However, standing back for a broader perspective of my journey though life, I began to see this unexpected turn of events as a golden opportunity of a very different sort.
Returning to our rental cottage, I informed Jenny that I had some bad news and maybe some good news. Incredibly, I had just forfeited the business. Therefore, I suggested that we return to California and begin preparations for the autumnal cruising season, seven months hence; to which she agreed.
The doorways to the far horizon now lay wide open.
Back in the U.S. we set to work getting the boat trip-ready - amassing and warehousing various items of gear, taking measurements and penciling dimensions, and making patterns. In the office's back-room we built various items to mount to the ketch. We fitted a life raft canister to the boat's after coach-roof, and a handmade double-tank propane housing to the cabin top. We screwed a separate, storm trysail track onto the mast; mounted an inner forestay, running backstays, and mast steps; and bolted a self-steering wind vane onto the stern.
Before retirement, my parents were school teachers. Each summer Dad would pack the car with camping gear, and Mom would prepare the food, and our family of seven would drive to the Sierra for two or three weeks of camping and backpacking. We were a mountain-loving family; seldom did we visit the coast, even though it was only an hour's drive from our home in California. As a teenager, one sea-sick fishing excursion outside the protected harbor convinced me to stay ashore.
I earned a college degree, and went on to attend more classes. During a break in my studies I searched for a job, in order to replenish my dwindling savings. One day I drove to Shelter Island to attend yet another interview. Providence seemed to have a hand in this one, for although I was late for the interview, I was hired.
My boss, Ray, was easy-going. My duties as company secretary and shipping clerk were not difficult, and the job was enjoyable. Once, for bonus pay I typed some of Ray's Sea kayaking journals, and I was impressed by his accomplishments. As the months passed I noticed that his business was secondary to his sailboat. His enthusiasm and dedicated work on his boat intrigued me, and I began to spend an afternoon once or twice a week working aboard. Not once in my 24 years had I dreamed of setting out to sea, but the marina was a novel and fascinating realm, and I began to see the boat more as a means to travel and to see the world.
Ray intended going on his circumnavigation alone, but now I wanted to go. Gathering my nerve, I asked if I could go with him, and he said yes. I guess I proposed to him! And this was the beginning of our outdoor adventures together.
Aug 82, Sail to Coronado Is.
A few photos leading up to my story:
My most regrettable part of leaving home: I had to sell my Mexican Redhead (aka: Green Cheeked Amazon Parrot). She had lived with me on the boat for those two years. She was such a sweet bird and a great friend.
Jenny's and my first date: a 6-day trip to Cayman Islands for scuba diving. Photo of Jenny by Ray 1982.
Our second date: a trip to the U.K. on business (I thought) and a side trip to the Alps - 41 days total.
Old mill stones.
Ray climbing at Millstone, U.K., photo by Jenny 1982.
At the WC factory, extrusions for making climbing hardware.
Chamonix, Photo of Jenny by Ray 1982.
Aquille du Midi, photo of Jenny by Ray 1982.