the call

I didn’t know John Fisher, but I know many offshore sailors and a few solo circumnavigators. Offshore Sailors aren’t caught unaware, we are learned, intentional Sailors. We assess the high risks and contemplate the consequences before we untie our spirits from their mooring and head out to sea. We aren’t frightened by the dark prospects of being lost at sea; we are frightened by not giving life the chance to be lived to its fullest.
Fifteen years ago, I experienced losing a close friend offshore. It’s wasn’t easy for me. It’s not easy for anyone. As tough as we Sailors appear to be, we are an emotional lot.
Below I’ve included some words that helped me understand why I sought and aimed for Cape Horn. I hope by sharing these words, they help people understand the spirit of a sailor like John Fisher and the many of us who wander about the open waters of this earth.
The Island of Cape Horn lies at the end of the world, within reach of a sailor’s imagination, yet seemingly forever beyond their physical grasp. The mere task of crossing a line to start a quest to round Cape Horn is enough of a trial to turn back multitudes of seasoned sailors.
I don’t know what drives us to carry on and venture beyond known limits for days upon days, pacing the march of relentless storms to harness their frightening winds and live among ireful waves traveling unheeded around the high latitudes of the southern hemisphere. It’s an unexplainable character in a human being. A character neither good or bad.
For me, long ago, during a dark night at sea, battered beyond personal recognition by incessant winds and angry seas, I thought of these Cape Horn sailors battling a lottery of luck, altered only slightly by the thinnest differences of persistence and skill, to determine who passes Cape Horn and who settles to the bottom of the lonely sea.
Like a bacteria, the thought of rounding Cape Horn entered my life through cracks in my weathered hands and permeated my body, festering in my mind and soul, and leaving me infected with a petition to search out this darkest corner of the oceans. To sail past it, not as a conquering hero, but as a respected inhabitant of the earth, standing in honored tribute to the forces of nature and even greater, those of the universe.
Every unfulfilled minute of the past 40 years, this festering germ has reminded me that it controls my weakness as it taunts the disconnect between my imagination and reality. I try to dismiss it, but it’s futile. It drives me beyond reason. Cape Horn looms as the summit of sailing.
– David Rearick