I have read more than a few times that doing the ARC was
a "life-changing" experience. I don't recall many instances, however, in which
this claim was explained or substantiated over and beyond its rhetorical value.
For me, still about 500 miles away from completing it, it's obviously premature
to say whether doing the ARC 2014 will be "life-changing" or not. What I can say
is how life on board is changing the experience.
I am a paying customer on a charter boat and decided to
do the ARC to satisfy a long-felt desire to do some long-haul sailing following
a life-long affair with dinghy sailing. I recently retired from a busy and
massively fulfilling career in the international news business. Taking the time
to disengage completely was not a luxury I could ever afford. I have crossed
this and other oceans close to a 100 times, but always in a hurry, looking with
envy at the blue waters some 30,000 feet below. I cannot recall a period of
several weeks without any contact with the outside world. As a self-confessed
news junkie, I cannot remember a day without getting myself abreast of current
affairs. No emails, no BlackBerry, no social networks. And yet, I am not showing
any withdrawal symptoms. The world and I clearly go on independently, even if
peace were to have broken out, or financial markets might have collapsed while I
was at sea.
Thanks in large part to my exceptional fellow crew
members, I accept the days as fantastic day sails; and I deal as best I can with
the nights of sleep deprivation; and the lack of our daily comforts as something
that will come to an end. In exchange, I have ample time for a bit of
introspection, to accept boredom for what it is, and a
chance to confront my own and other people's shortcomings without the ability to
get away from them.
Before I started this adventure, I though that "having
done the ARC" was going to be a lot more satisfying than "actually doing the
ARC." I was wrong. I am mesmerized by the trip and its ability to force myself
to be at peace with doing nothing and just enjoy the indescribable sun rises and
sunsets, and our ever-so beautiful moon.
Although I am certain the warm hospitality awaiting us
in St. Lucia will be a welcome change from life on board, I am now equally
sure that it's not the destination that matters; it truly is the journey itself
that does. Whether one calls it "life-changing" or not, I am pretty sure that
next time I open a news site to see whether I "missed" something, it will be
with a rather different perspective.
Thanks to my fellow crew members to gain to some further
insights into what makes me tick. Life-changing or not, with only a few more
days to go, I know the ARC 2014 will have been an unforgettable experience.
Though I probably won't keep the beard that my new friends encouraged me to grow
during the trip -- if only because it's starting to itch. (Mike B.)