Adrift Between Missions
June 28, 2013

My ship has sunk. I’m sitting in my dinghy which has become my life raft. Around me the ocean is empty, blue and calm.

…the ocean is empty, blue and calm… A photo I took from my dinghy while sailing my sailboat “Sea Bird” 65 days from the Cape of Good Hope back to the Virgin Islands. Luckily my boat didn’t sink because…..
…it would have been a long row back to shore. Here, the approximate location of where the above photo was taken (Photo Google Maps)

I’m just out there sandwiched between sky and sea bobbing in a rowboat. Spiraling into the inky abyss beneath me, the vessel that has carried me across the world’s great oceans.

Doesn’t matter why she sank. She’s gone.

Down through the water column she settles, from warm water to cold and on and on. Way past the sun’s reach down to where the pressure builds and the fish look alien and aren’t worth catching.

She crumples, ruptures her seams. Spills her guts and they start floating back toward our closest friendly star.

Next to me in my row boat, a wine bottle pops to the surface. Pages from the ship’s journal – buoyed by the grease I’ve pressed into the grubby pages – rise like jelly fish. The white bits? Oh yeah, that bag of rice from Rodrigues Island in the Indian Ocean.

And I’ll be adrift in wine bottles, journal pages and rice – my life raft surrounded by the remnants of what was, until she sank, my vessel.

Okay, that’s an analogy of my life as I see it now. I’ve never had a ship sink out from under me. I don’t even know if the hydrophysics of my deep sea pressure analogy is correct. Would anything every float back to the surface once it reached a certain depth?

Still, the description captures a feeling.

I recently had a grand wagon voyage. Now I’m home and things are, well, sorta normal. Okay. I’m feeling a little adrift. Between missions. But life’s like that, right? From time to time, I’m sure you’ve felt like you’re just sorta bobbing along. Right?

To be a little clearer, mule Polly and I recently spent 5 months traveling across Newfoundland in our wagon interviewing folks about things cod, iceberg and puffin. (You can read more in the RiverEarth.com archives. That’s where you’ll learn helpful things like why it never pays to lie to your mule and some stuff on icebergs. Also, what it’s like for your wagon to be crashed in to by an inattentive driver).

Polly and her cart north of Reef Cove, on Newfoundland’s North West coast.

Then Polly and I came back to Carolina and the ordinariness of day to day life sucked me back in: I scattered my mother’s ashes. My mom, Lislott Harberts, died last August.

I wrote stories for TownDock.net. I planted a winter garden and celebrated my dad’s 87th birthday.

I checked my email.

I was starting to feel a bit at sea. Like my adventurous life of wagons and ocean voyaging had been replaced by, well, responsibility. The sea was blue. The ocean was calm. There was a life raft bobbing peacefully on the surface. I was in it.

Then the email from Matt.

I’d met Matt Tucker on The Rock. Polly and I were camped out behind a fish flake, a wood structure used to dry cod. Matt’s a film maker. We got to talking and while I cooked caplin (a Newfoundland fish) on my wood stove, his crew shot some footage.

Then we parted ways.

I didn’t hear from Matt for months. ‘Til the email came.

And there it was. A tiny, perfect, just-over-a-minute long movie. A short film that captured my 5 month trip as crisply as a poem.

It came as a welcome reprieve from the ordinariness of my daily life. A figurative wine bottle popping to the surface next to a life raft. Within reach. Something to give you a buzz until help, in the form of another grand adventure, arrives.

So here’s a glimpse into my beloved wagon world. A glance back to another time on a foggy island far away. A peep at what drives my world.

Maybe, if you’re feeling drifty like me, it’ll nudge us both back on course.

(Thanks to Matt Tucker, his crew and Target Marketing & Communications Inc. for putting together this great clip. Hell, sure makes me want to return to the island of screech, beach and water heater moonshine!)

Posted Friday June 28, 2013 by Bernie
Where this story happened: