Tuesday, July 28, 2009


It is important to remember that adventures are horrible, especially while you are having them. By their very nature, adventures are uncomfortable, unpleasant and at least a little bit dangerous. These are necessary qualities, ones that distinguish the "adventure" from the "packaged holiday," in which consumers spend a lot of money to see beautiful things with no perceptible risk at all.

I have to remind myself of this when I get down-hearted about the fact that Sereia is still on the hard, eating away at our finances, while paradise beckons just a thousand miles to the North.

Take Thor Heyerdahl, for example. He crossed the Pacific in a balsa wood raft, just him and five other cute young Norwegians. They dodged sharks, they read Goethe, they turned the academic world on its head, and they all got bitchin’ tans in the process. It made for a great story afterwards. I have no doubt that if I had been around in the forties, and met up with a deeply-tanned vagabond named “Thor,” who spent the evening regaling me with stories about catching sharks with his bare hands on the high seas, I would have thrown myself at him in the most silly and embarrassing ways.

But consider, for a moment, what Thor and his mates actually endured. The Kon-Tiki expedition was funded by private loans, because the academic world thought Heyerdahl was such a wackjob that nobody would even read his manuscript, let alone give him a grant. Before they could even build their raft, they had to collect hundreds of balsa wood logs from the Ecuadorian jungle, dodging native head-hunters armed with poison-tipped arrows. Once they got out to sea, they contended with frightening weather systems and sharks who were lusting for tasty man flesh. And to top it all off, their food was provided by the US Army. Circa 1947. Delicious home cooking, it was not.

And at least the Kon-Tiki expedition had sunshine. What about Earnest Shackleton and his band of intrepid adventurers? With their ship sealed in ice for an Antarctic winter, they had to slaughter their puppies for food. They ate penguin fried in seal blubber, a flavor that Shackleton likened to “bacon… though persons living under civilized conditions would probably shudder at it.” And once they realized they wouldn’t make it to the Pole, and that their only hope for survival was to send out an expedition party to South Georgia, the men left behind on Elephant Island had to starve and freeze, chewing their shoe leather in the never-ending darkness of the frigid polar winter.

Allow me to emphasize here that the crew of Sereia has no plans to chew shoe leather. Actually, we’re just looking to enjoy some nice sailing and swimming off our yacht. But despite our GPS and lavish stores of extra-virgin olive oil, going to sea in a small plastic vessel is an adventure just the same. We live in close quarters, we cope with rough seas, we eat dried beans and we pee in a bucket—because all that discomfort, in the end, makes the world a sweeter place.

Besides. If this were easy, everyone would be doing it.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Antonia, I'll try to bear that in mind as my great adventure recedes faster and faster into the past...