I felt like I'd been home for awhile... But, after returning to New York, time has once again sped up, and less than a week later, home feels blurry, and distant. Memories are so subjective, so false, so fleeting. Yet I have been listening to music which was on repeat throughout my trip over the past few days... Thoughts of living in England in the rain appear vivid; being tied up next to a bridge in Holland, the barges steaming by and consequently pushing Constellation against century old canal walls. The panic of collecting diesel in Brest to cross the Bay of Biscay, taking mid-night taxis with trunks full of jerry cans, fuel spilling on deck. It's these memories which are explicit in retrospect, but impossible to convey after a recent bout of questioning... Just before leaving Australia, I went on local radio, was interviewed for two small newspapers (read one of them here), and said goodbye to friends who all ask 'why?' ... There is no simple answer. All I can rebuttal with is a confused look of 'why not?' It is of course far more complex than that, but there are no more questions, only actions, and this is what has been going on for 514 days. But it's more like 954 days since the inception of this voyage. That's two years, seven months, and eight days... But what extraordinary days they were! And what extraordinary days are in store for 2009. I've been lax on posts since I went home. I had little sailing news, and was concentrating on working, seeing friends, and riding my bicycle. Through great fortune, my good friend and fellow sailor Paul, connected me with Stephen and Magda, who generously provided me with a room to stay for my time in Australia. They run a great little warehouse with student accommodation in Melbourne, and donated one of their rooms to me, and ultimately to this project. Without their assistance in providing a roof over my head, I would have been stuck paying rent, and would not have been able to save what I've managed to over the past several months, to make this year happen. My sincere thanks goes out to them for such generosity - My mother says I have good merit, which I am absolutely conscious of; I'm writing here, and about this, because of other people. I planted a seed; and people everywhere watered it.
So through my living in Australia, I worked on my projects, survived the heat, and roughly planned 2009. Remember, I wanted to ride a bike across America? It was supposed to be a pedal powered one. However, Lee Winters, that lovely man who recently crossed the Gulf of Mexico on the beginning of his circumnavigation, in the name of helping children find a home, gave me this:
It's not exactly a bicycle, but it does have two wheels... This monster lies down in Texas, waiting for me to figure out how to integrate it into a kind of sailing / Easy Rider type adventure. Don't forget there is a film being made about this whole trip, and I can already picture a wide open ocean; pan to desert scene across Arizona... It makes me laugh just thinking about it. This trip has mostly epitomised the nature of going with the flow - It wasn't until I reached the Canaries and had too much time to think about things, that I decided to sail to New York and go overland... And it wasn't until I was driving down the Long Island Express that I decided it would be more fun to ride across America and see the country. And now, through Lee's generosity, I just might be doing it while sitting above 1100CC's of engine. Thank you Lee, you're a gentlemen, and I urge everyone to spend more time following his adventures than mine - His intentions have greater purity; the type that are infectious, and heart warming. We could all do more for the world while following our passions, and he's doing it, now.
After landing in Los Angeles, my passport was inspected, and I was whisked off to the Admissibility Review room. It's the special room made for people who tick the box on the entrance sheet saying 'I have been arrested', or 'I have been denied entry to the USA'. I ticked no to all those boxes, and even arrived in the country with a real visa, unlike most people who just take advantage of the Visa Waiver Program. Basically, I did everything correctly, and then some. But no, it wasn't enough. I waited for three hours, and was then interviewed and hassled about my intentions to enter America. No offence to Americans, but really, I have better things to do than try and enter your borders and stay illegally. I don't fit your profiles, I have no record, I've only ever followed the book. As I sat in the room, I wondered about how much I would get for Constellation. I wondered if she was worth anything, to anybody. Forlorn, frozen, in pieces, I thought not much. But, I was later released, only to be 'randomly chosen by the TSA computer for full screening.' And so, I stood there, arms in the air, legs spread, patted down, bags bomb dusted, shoes off, laptop opened, 20 minutes before US Airlines flight 32 departed for New York. I made it, the flight was crowded, I was tired, I landed, and by the end of the week I'll be back to my boat.
I have a long way to go this year. Over 7000nm of sailing to go... That's 12,964km's. But 2009 is more than likely the year I will also finish. I wonder if I can drag it out any more? What on earth will I do when I finish? Many things. Many things indeed!
-Nick, Brooklyn, New York City.