Sunday, December 24, 2006

How to Sail Across the Atlantic

by Paul Bennett
from The Best American Travel Writing 2006

Out of all of the great images and lessons on sailing around the world Paul Bennet presents in "How to Sail Across the Atlantic," this image sticks with me the most: On trying to remove an obstruction in their boat's plumbing he writes, "As I pulled the hose free from the valve...(I)n the next moment, the obstruction in question shot out the line with fire-hose ferocity. It caked the walls, the ceiling, and the floor. It covered me completely from head to toe. I can say, unequivocally that being showed with another person's crap has been the single worse experience of my life." It sounds like something from a gross-out comedy movie: both funny and disgusting at the same time. It might also be a part of the reason why I enjoyed this selection.

Besides learning how not to repair the plumbing on a boat, Bennet divulges many other valuable lessons such as pirates are still real, tankers can come out of nowhere and split your boat in half in a second, on average, it takes amature sailors four and half years to circumnavigate the world, and whales are just as dangerous as sharks in the open water. Despite all of that, it all still sounds hopelessly romantic to me. I just returned from my first cruise a week ago, and there is definately something to said for being able to look out your window and see nothing but blue, blue ocean. I bet it is scary, expensive, and exhausting to set sail around the world but the rewards - the sights you'd see, the things you'd do along the way - would be well worth it. I love a good adventure.

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