I have read more than a few times that doing the ARC was a “life-changing” experience. I don’t recall many instances, however, in which this claim was explained or substantiated over and beyond its rhetorical value. For me, still about 500 miles away from completing it, it’s obviously premature to say whether doing the ARC 2014 will be “life-changing” or not. What I can say is how life on board is changing the experience.
I am a paying customer on a charter boat and decided to do the ARC to satisfy a long-felt desire to do some long-haul sailing following a life-long affair with dinghy sailing. I recently retired from a busy and massively fulfilling career in the international news business. Taking the time to disengage completely was not a luxury I could ever afford. I have crossed this and other oceans close to a 100 times, but always in a hurry, looking with envy at the blue waters some 30,000 feet below. I cannot recall a period of several weeks without any contact with the outside world. As a self-confessed news junkie, I cannot remember a day without getting myself abreast of current affairs. No emails, no BlackBerry, no social networks. And yet, I am not showing any withdrawal symptoms. The world and I clearly go on independently, even if peace were to have broken out, or financial markets might have collapsed while I was at sea.
Thanks in large part to my exceptional fellow crew members, I accept the days as fantastic day sails; and I deal as best I can with the nights of sleep deprivation; and the lack of our daily comforts as something that will come to an end. In exchange, I have ample time for a bit of introspection, to accept boredom for what it is, and a chance to confront my own and other people’s shortcomings without the ability to get away from them.
Before I started this adventure, I though that “having done the ARC” was going to be a lot more satisfying than “actually doing the ARC.” I was wrong. I am mesmerized by the trip and its ability to force myself to be at peace with doing nothing and just enjoy the indescribable sun rises and sunsets, and our ever-so beautiful moon.
Although I am certain the warm hospitality awaiting us in St. Lucia will be a welcome change from life on board, I am now equally sure that it’s not the destination that matters; it truly is the journey itself that does. Whether one calls it “life-changing” or not, I am pretty sure that next time I open a news site to see whether I “missed” something, it will be with a rather different perspective.
Thanks to my fellow crew members to gain to some further insights into what makes me tick. Life-changing or not, with only a few more days to go, I know the ARC 2014 will have been an unforgettable experience. Though I probably won’t keep the beard that my new friends encouraged me to grow during the trip — if only because it’s starting to itch. (Mike B.)
position.. 15’16.01N 50’26.30W