Sailing the 1967 Acapulco-40 Hull No.1 – All the Way Home!
A Distillation, by Derek Jean.
In the summer of 2008, during the 6 week economic downturn in the last significant recession, I began the most profoundly life-changing project of my adult life. It was the untying from a past life, an identity and a conditioned mind. As I came into my 28th year, this journey of radical severance became a distillation from the past. Releasing all ancestral ties except for one, a grand portion of person-hood had yet to fall away into the abyss. Over the next 11 years, I would find myself in a great unfolding that continued without fail to challenge the ideas and concepts I based my understanding of life on. I would like to honour my one remaining connection to the past, my mother below, for her courage, strength and willingness to show up for me in her most profound ways. Thanks for bringing me into this world Mom.
A Story About Darkness
I met Marie-Josee in Juneau, AK to prepare the boat for the most unknown adventure of my life. When we finally arrived in Sitka, it was one of the darkest realizations of my life. Fear at a primordial level was felt throughout my entire being. It was as if my whole sense of vitality sank 10 fathoms deeper in a split second. It was a suffocating feeling. I will always remember the rawness that rocked me to my core in that moment I stepped from the deck of Foot Loose onto the dock at St. Elias Harbour. It marked the beginning of one long year living aboard among hundreds of others. I knew right then that this was the beginning of the end of identification with person-hood. What I recognized most about jumping into the void is that there is actually no way of turning back.
I arrived in Sitka, AK by the very end of August. Work was available to me as a sea kayak guide and as a residential plumber. I eventually made a connection with a salty shipwright who put me to task on some wooden boat projects for the duration of the winter. The year was dark, cold and difficult. I felt grateful for the presence of Mike Nurco, the shipwright. It seemed as though I was trapped in the ice with only one way out. It was to refit and prepare Foot Loose and myself over the winter to sail down the coast back to Canada as soon as the sailing season returned. It didn’t matter how challenging the next few moths were going to be because I had only one focus. To safely and successfully sail the outer coast of SE Alaska, Haida Gwaii and across the mouth of Queen Charlotte Sound into the protected waters of Vancouver Island’s East Side.
One of the impressive things about SE Alaska is its ocean current. Here in the passage leading out to Sitka between Baranoff and Chichagoff Islands the currents are visible at most times. With tidal ranges over 22-feet, it is easy to see how the currents between all of the islands can become torrents. It seemed we could hardly make any headway as we motored through some of the more becalmed sections of the seaways.
more to come…