Tuesday, December 28, 2010


The big Northeast storm stranded a lot of people. We've gotten pretty used to getting to our destinations on time. That's a modern development. Travel used to be more of an open ended affair.

When travel relied on foot or by animal power, long journeys were full of delays. Storms, floods, fire, bandits, injuries, detours, bad roads, and sketchy navigation, all troubled the traveler. Travel by boat could be faster -if you weren't shipwrecked, becalmed, storm tossed, or assaulted by pirates.

People had a more flexible attitude about travel. Some journeys took years. Nantucket whalers would be gone for an average of 4 years. Weeks and months of journey time was common. If you got to your destination within a week of your planned date, you did well.

We've gotten used to reliable and quick travel. A few days delay feels like the end of the world. Our ancestors would marvel at our impatience.

Since I've been getting into sailing, I'm getting in touch with the old hit or miss nature of travel. If you rely on the wind, it doesn't matter that your boat is made is made of fiberglass. Some of the same restrictions apply today. Relying on the wind is just as chancy now as it was a thousand years ago.

Of course, most sailors have an "iron sail," an internal combustion engine. If your are willing to burn fuel, it's easier to keep a schedule. Even then, there are still things like storms that can challenge the modern sailor.

Personally, rather than rely on a motor, I'm going to cultivate a serene attitude. We get there when we get there. It's not the destination, but the journey and all that. The best way to avoid being late is to have no expected arrival time. I do have a motor, but I'd rather burn time than gas. More time on the water doesn't sound like a bad thing to me.


1 comment:

  1. The engine is for manouvering in tight quarters, or emergencies. Yep, sailing is all about the journey. Destinations are just an added bonus ; )