Friends of ours are about to cut their docklines and start cruising, after years of preparation, and their excitement made me think back to our departure from the dock in June 2010 and the ensuing summer we had gunkholing around Vancouver Island. Good times.
It also made me think back to when we were preparing to leave. We would occasional met "doners" -- people who had gone cruising and returned. When it came up in conversation that the person I was talking to had been to the South Pacific, I would feel butterflies in my own stomach and start bubbling over with questions about the trip, the area, and their experiences. These people had crossed an ocean, visited South Pacific islands, on relatively small sailing yachts and I respected that (and still do).
Now that we are doing it, I look around and I think (with a sense of love and self-inclusion), we're just a bunch of yahoos out here. We learn as we go, sometimes fumble along, and we're having the time of our lives. Most of us sailing the South Pacific this year are not super salty, born sailors, but rather people who came late to the idea, have done our due diligence in preparation and are now out here winging it.
To me this is a very freeing thought. If cruising were a sport, the South Pacific would be one of the "just for fun" marathons. You have to prepare and take it seriously. You have to put in the time and put in the miles, but if you do, it is a trip that is accessible to the average person. You don't have to have superhuman powers like Lance Armstrong*, you just have to have the determination and commitment to make your way through a long series of to do lists.
Now, when I meet sailors who have done something that I feel is extra salty, for example the couple we met on the French flagged boat Eclipse who sailed to Antarctica, instead of letting the butterflies fly, I need to apply this same realization to the next level**. Baby steps...
*Perhaps the wrong time to make that comparison, n'est-ce pas?
**No, we aren't sailing to Antarctica...brrr!