Thursday, July 2, 2020

Seeker: A Sea Odyssey

I’m delighted to welcome intrepid traveler Rita Pomade to my blog today. I get queasy just looking at the sea and have been known to get sick sitting in a boat, so Rita’s journey was, to me, absolutely eye-opening. Rita shares some thoughts on her sea odyssey and what she did not do and could have done! Rita, an intrepid nomad originally from New York, now lives and writes in Montreal. Her work has appeared in literary magazines and poetry reviews, and her monologue for auditioning actors was selected for inclusion in the Monologue Bank. An excerpt from her forthcoming memoir Seeker: A Sea Odyssey was included in two travel anthologies. 
How I Could Have Enriched My Sea Journey

“Will I drown at sea?” I needed reassurance before I left with my family on our sea odyssey that would take us half-way around the world. Surely, Donatian Gravel, astrologer to Pierre Trudeau, Canada’s 15th Prime Minster, couldn’t be wrong. A friend who was sure Mr. Gravel was on Trudeau’s payroll recommended him. It seemed like a good referral. “How about my kids?” Mr. Gravel studied the symbols scribbled on the chart between us. “You’ll all be fine,” he said. My other preparation was a Sunday sail on Lake Chaplain under a light breeze where I spent the afternoon drinking Chardonnay wine and gorging on tasty snacks. That was it. That’s all I knew of sailing. My focus was on the adventure, the countries, the excitement of travel where I could experience cultures without a timeline.

I didn’t bother to read books on sailing. I didn’t even think it necessary to take a course. I figured I’d learn on the way. But once I was in the thick of it, I didn’t have time on my side. I wasn’t a natural sailor and would have needed an instructor to take me through the steps in a protected environment—away from the worry of pirates, squalls, and rough seas. Fortunately, I could follow instructions and learned that I didn’t panic in danger. And I was fortunate to have a mate who was a consummate sailor. But I had no idea what to do if anything happened to him. If he fell overboard or became too ill to handle the yacht, I’d float on an endless sea, rudderless. I couldn’t read charts. I couldn’t use a sexton. I wasn’t even sure when to tack or reef without his telling me.

In short, whatever the sail, I couldn’t lose that undercurrent of anxiety. When the yacht heeled and flew effortlessly on a strong wind, my mate was in his element. I was afraid we’d topple over. When he jumped into a vast, empty sea to free our log line from the prop, I worried if he’d come up safe. But I also worried about what I’d do if he didn’t come up at all. I loved the adventure—meeting people from diverse cultures, experiencing new foods, learning how accommodate to new situations. But my lack of confidence in handling the yacht brought an edge of discomfort each time we were at sea—and we were often many days out there before landfall.
I also regret not having educated myself about the history and culture of the more than twenty countries we travelled through. I gained a lot because of the luxury of no time frame, but I’d have learned a lot more if I’d have had more background. I found myself catching up after the journey was over. I wanted to learn more about the places where I had been, and I did. But had I done that before our adventure, the journey would have been richer.

For old sea dogs looking for more sea stories or for those who want to try an exciting around the world trip, Rita’s book is available on Amazon.

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