Well, my last blog post was nine months ago. I've cut down the interval between posts by six months, so maybe I'm making progress. The main reason I haven't posted is because progress with the preparation slowed down quite significantly. In my last post I was fairly certain I could pull off a 2017 departure with the funds I had coming in. It turns out I was wrong. I couldn't quite pull it together with a safe enough margin. However, that doesn't mean progress hasn't taken place; it's coming along very nicely.
The boat structure is complete, and we are now focusing on finishing the internal systems. Luckily the systems are fairly simple, so that means we don't have much left to complete. As I was leaving from my last trip to the States, the interior deck hatches were just about complete, the interior was getting its second coat of paint, and final preparations for installing electronics were just about done. Now all we have left is completing the plumbing, installing the ventilation system, and wiring the boat with electronics. It's looking great and it's pretty exciting to see it all come together! The boat was on display at the Portland Boat Show last January and was even featured in a short segment with a local NBC affiliate. You can see the clip below.
I'm again overseas working, but I should be back in August/September. When I get back, the remainder of the work should be complete and we'll be ready to begin stability testing. We'll put the boat in the water for the first time in order to test the self-righting capability, to check the stability at different weight distributions, and to ensure the desired performance characteristics match what the designer calculated. Once testing is complete and we are satisfied with the results, I'll turn my attention to outfitting and organization of equipment. For example, I'll have to decide how I'll deploy and tie off the sea anchor/drogue, where I'll store important equipment, and how I'll manage the oars when not rowing, amongst many other things. I'll also need to be well versed in troubleshooting and repairing anything that fails, so I'll spend plenty of time dissembling and reassembling vital equipment like the reverse osmosis desalination pump. Until then, I'll continue to focus on the educational aspect of the trip. I'll also continue to mentally prepare myself, which will likely be the deciding factor for success or failure.
Mental preparation is a tricky element, I'm finding. In pondering how to get into the right state of mind and how to prepare for the psychological challenges, I've delved into identifying my priorities and core motivations. In short, it's a deeper look into the big why. Why am I really doing this, and why am I sacrificing so much to get this done. I knew the preparations were going to be daunting, especially with a custom design and build, but it's been exhausting. I've drained every personal resource, I've isolated myself extensively in Afghanistan and Iraq to earn cash quickly, a relationship self-destructed (at least in part) due to my absence overseas, and it's taking much longer than anticipated. So why then? Why keep pushing on when the anxiety builds into restless nights? It's not pride, it's not for accolades or respect, and it's not for the novelty of it all. I have rational, logical answers - to push my limits, to grow as an individual, to gain new experiences, to quit looking for answers "out there," when the answers might be found by looking inward. But in actuality, there's a nagging feeling, an itch that hasn't been scratched, a thirst to find meaning, it's a desire to question everything, to find a sense that what I'm doing in life matters.
The standard model of how to live in our society just doesn't fit me, it doesn't feel right. There's a dissonance within me, a natural tendency to reject the "normal" path and to forge something new, something unique. I still don't know what that is, so I'm seeking, I'm following a path that beckons. It sounds absurd, a man nearly in his forties still seeking. But isn't the human condition completely absurd? What are we really doing here, and why? We're floating in a void on a spherical rock, orbiting around a ball of fire, on the outskirts of an insignificant galaxy (to paraphrase Alan Watts). It's really an odd situation if you think about it. It seems extremely inconsequential in the grand scheme, no matter what we do. So why live a life that doesn't resonate with your core being? There's a beacon calling, and I'm following, because it feels right. I'm abandoning the largely dominant force of logic and reason within me for feeling and instinct. Maybe there's something enlightening there; maybe I'll find something that has deep meaning, if only just for me. There's only one way to find out, and I intend to see it through.
A guy called Jason Silva has a YouTube channel called "Shots of Awe" and he begins one with a quote from Walker Percy- "To be aware of the possibility of the search is to be on to something. Not to be on to something is to be in despair." He discusses the subject of seeking within the video and since he's much smarter and more eloquent than me, I'll pass it on to him.
So yes, I'm delayed until 2018. But what beckons hasn't faded, and I will keep seeking.