Monday, October 13, 2008

What would they do if I made no landfall.

We spent the weekend in Annapolis, MD with the C Family sans children. It was a beautiful weekend, one that you were surprised could happen in a month that ended in an "R". We also met up with my wife's sister and her husband at the annual Sail Boat Show at Annapolis.

You would have been shocked to learn that the stock market had the single most worst week ever. The place was packed and let's just say there weren't a lot of Democrats in the crowd. I saw a lot of McCain stickers and very few Obama supporters. Except these guys and technically they were outside the show.

After spending the day taking my shoes on and off to get on and off boats (you can't get on and of the boats with "street shoes"), Mr C and I decided to sign up for a "slide show" later that afternoon by a man that circumnavigated the earth while the wives shopped. It was a easy choice. I could go from one shop to another endlessly or I could sit on some guys boat.

We looked for the boat.

We wound our way through the marina looking for a Hunter 49 with red Hunter pennants flying. Once we found it, we realized we were the only ones going to see the show. We kind of hung out there for a while past the 4:30 start time. Finally, a family of five came out, just about worshiping the older guy that owned the boat. They were taking pictures with him and just chatting away at how fascinating the whole thing was.

We asked them how long they were there. They said an hour and a half.

Now, I was thinking that an hour and half seemed kind of long to be sitting on some stranger's boat while he showed pictures of his year long vacation. I was thinking of ways to get out of this in a half an hour or so. Ohh, looked I'm being paged.

IMG_9919_AMF
Originally uploaded by mfalcian

The Man introduced himself as Mike Harker and invited aboard and to make ourselves at home. Mike had some business to take care of and then he would be right with us.

Mr C and climbed aboard and went below and after a few minutes Mike came below as well. After getting water ready for tea and quick reboot of his laptop Mike began to tell us his story and show pictures on the flat screen behind him.

At no time during the next two hours did I consider bailing on Mike. His is a fascinating story of adventure, trial and courage.

Mike had very little idea what he was doing and decided to sail a 46 foot sailboat to Europe. He picked up the boat in Miami and sailed the inter coastal water way up Florida with an experienced Captain by the name of Boomer. Mike liked the guy and they worked out a deal where Boomer would sail with him to Europe.

At the last minute, Boomer got a another job running a sailing school for college aged girls in the Bahamas. You can't even begin to make something like that up. A job teaching college girls to sail? Come on. Mike said he understood and decided to head out anyway. By himself.

At the end of his show Mike had a picture of Boomer. He was smiling. Broadly. Big Teeth. We called it the Boomer smile. There were girls working on the boat behind him. They were in bikinis. It's hard to fault Boomer.

Mike just set the autopilot and headed for Bermuda.

He showed up in Bermuda in June and started looking for a crew. The guys in the marinas thought he was making this up. You sailed from where? By yourself? And you don't even know this is Hurricane season and all able bodied crew have left? That's right, Mike didn't even know when to start his trip.

Unable to get a crew, Mike set off on his own again.

If you are in the know about sailing the Atlantic, there is this guy named Herb Hilgenberg in Nova Scotia. Herb gives weather reports and such to long range sailors. During the crossing, Herb taught Mike the finer points of sailing blue water like "head into the waves".

Now at this point I was thinking "even I knew that". But Mike did not and he headed to 40 degrees North, turned the boat East and set the Autopilot. He showed us the route on Google Earth. It was straight as an arrow. Until about 3/4 of the way.

Mike went straight across the Atlantic until a giant wave knocked the boat to the point where the top of his mast went underwater. He let out the main sail, the boat righted itself and he got on the horn with Herb. Herb taught him to head into the waves and tack.

For the next hour and half we were mesmerized by stories like this as Mike picked up crew.many young and female and sailed from island to island.

By the end it would not have surprised me if Mike said:

"And that's when I found the colony of leprechauns, you know, the little people"

Slowly our entire crew ended up at Mike's boat listening to his stories.

If you find yourself at a Sail Boat show, look for the Hunter dock and sign up for Mike's show.

If you want to know more about Mike and his story, look here.

For pictures of our Annapolis trip, look here.

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