Ocean Hermit – sailing, solitude and stories

My plans to retrace Captain Cook's unfinished voyage have been postponed a year while I work on the next Marine Diesel Basics book and get my new boat SV Oceandrifter ready for sea.

* No-one sails alone – not even singlehanders

No-one sails alone – not even singlehanders on sailboats.

The truth of this is obvious when you think about it – and singlehanders are probably more aware of this paradox than most.

What do I mean?

We may do many things on our own, but  they are rarely accomplished without the cooperation and active support of many other people. So it’s long past due to express my sincere gratitude in public to all those people who have been and are helping me so much in my quest to sail from Toronto to Newfoundland, up the coast of Labrador, around Cape Chidley and south to Kuujjuaq in Ungava Bay this summer.  Meet some of the major benefectors:

I have avoided trying to get commercial sponsorship after deciding against painting “Heineken” on the side of the boat. I’m not sure what I could offer corporate sponsors that they would find enticing, and have not had the time to convert the voyage in to some kind of sponsored sail for charity, which I consider rather dubious at best. (Personally I’m tired of all the advertising and messages with which we are constantly being bombarded nowadays – and presume other people are equally exhausted!)

Dr. Magdalena Krondl

However, the enthusiastic support of one very special lady in Toronto makes her at least my unofficial “lead sponsor” and I would like to acknowledge and celebrate such thorough-going generosity. Dr. Magdalena Krondl, professor emeritus of the University of Toronto, has been enthusiastic about my projects ever since we worked together on her autobiography “Faith and Hope, My Odyssey from Czechoslovakia to Canada” some years ago.

We become close friends and when I started the refit of “Kuan Yin” in Toronto in 2008 Dr. Krondl generously invited me to stay in her basement and to store the boat’s equipment “down below”.  I would peddle off early in the morning for another day of labour inside the hull and when I returned exhausted in the evening, therewould be a meal waiting on the dining table!

Since then, she has continued as a concerned and generous sponsor – never allowing any obstacle to jeopardize the project but also maintaining a strict intellectual discipline over purpose, research and ideas. Without her support, “Kuan Yin” would not now be in northern Newfoundland (almost) ready to sail north as soon as the sea ice allows this coming spring.

Tom Cheng: a true bodhisattva

Another person who has been unstinting in his help has been Tom Cheng in Toronto. He came down to the boatyard one afternoon curious to see “Kuan Yin” and ended up coming almost every day to help (unpaid!) with whatever jobs had to be tackled next. This included one particular frustrating afternoon in which reinstalling a large panel inside the boat literally took hours. Tom never once lost his smile or patience. He is a true bodhisattva.

Simone at the launch of our joint book "Staying Home"

Jiri at the tiller on Lake Ontario

Jiri and Simone Skopek, though they are now firmly anchored in Toronto, have both been adventurous sailors – crossing the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans respectively before they were married.  They have been unfailingly supportive for years – whatever my crazy projects!  And always welcoming with dinner and wine.

Shortly before departing Toronto in 2009, I rushed into an auto electrics workshop clutching the alternator from the boat.  Though Eli came highly recommended, little did I know at the time that I was meeting someone who could – and would take the time – to explain alternators in language I could understand.  And as a sailor himself, he was determined not to send me off without equipment that worked.  Last year, when I returned to Eli Melnick at Start Auto Electric, www.startauto.com, he not only made up a high output alterantor specially for my needs but sold it to me at a large discount (these things can be hugely expensive!). Even on a sailboat, electric power is vital nowadays, so my sincere thanks to him for his interest and generosity.

Many other people have helped me, and I have mentioned some of them in earlier post,  so I am not going to attempt to name more “sponsors”, as this would be invidious to some I might overlook.  However, their generosity is not forgotten – and they can be assured that their shining examples of help to a stranger have only encouraged me to further continue this wave of human feeling whenever I meet someone else who could do with a hand.


One comment on “* No-one sails alone – not even singlehanders

  1. Madla
    May 29, 2011

    I have read just now this blog. The first paragraph relating to specific persons caused a blush without the need of makeup. Not so the photo, who ever could it be?! Fortunately, the other pictures of the “sponsors” made up for it. M.


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This entry was posted on January 16, 2011 by in Labrador, Life Skills, Sailing and tagged , , .
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