This is what it’s about – reflections from Dark Horse

Dark Horse Update 6.29.18, 10 PM PST

The past couple days have brought a lot of self-reflection. I can be pretty competitive because I like to excel at whatever I am doing, I thrive off of it. So when I found myself at the back of the fleet after the Southerly Surge on the first night, I was pretty discouraged, and still am a bit. There were boats almost 200 miles ahead of me before I got wind to move again. So for the past couple days I have been trying to reconcile my competitive nature with this trip which is more than a race. It is said to change people and to be an adventure of a lifetime. I was talking with someone before the race and told them I was pretty nervous.  Their reply was “Just remember why you wanted to do the race”.  That comment set me back. I couldn’t remember. I have been so busy trying to make it to the start line, running a business, and being a good dad and boyfriend that I lost sight of why I am doing the 2018 SHTP.  What people see when they see my boat is a lot of time and money put into it. I have worked hard over the last 5 years to put together the boat that I want to do the trip in and that will give me the best experience. But why do I want to do the 2018 SHTP?

I did not grow up sailing. I did not grow up by the ocean. What attracted me to sailing was a couple of things. I started sailing on an 18’ Buccaneer.  Even though that was not the best sailboat, I found myself living in the moment while I was out sailing. I just loved the experience of the wind and sails and water. I am a thinker, so for me just to go do something and not ponder it gave me a sense enjoyment. Each time I came back from sailing, I felt refreshed, calmed, and with a positive outlook. Those days on the Buccaneer 18 on Canyon Ferry in Montana developed that passion for the experience. When I lived in San Francisco, I got on a crewed boat and loved it even more. Racing teaches a lot and I have the desire to perfect whatever it is that I’m doing. Racing with that boat is when I first heard about the SHTP.  My response was “WAIT!,….So there a race to Hawaii alone??!!, that’s pretty badass!”  So I was hooked when I first heard about it. I think it was mostly the experience of crossing an ocean, the freedom, seeing things relatively few people see, experiencing things relatively few people experience, the challenge, figuring out how and why, all of it was why I wanted to do it.  I started figuring out which boat to get, and how I’m going to do it and so on, but the drive to do it wasn’t there until September 2014.

September 2014 started the most difficult thing I have ever had to face. After being the primary caregiver for our daughter, a judge decided to let my ex take our daughter over 600 miles away from me.  It wasn’t a decision based on who would be in the best position to take care of my daughter.  I remember sitting in court trying to defend why the court should let me be a part of my daughter’s life. No one should have to justify that. The only justification is that you are a parent, it’s a right.  Within days I literally had my daughter ripped from my arms, both of us crying.  It was the most painful experience of my life.

After that moment I could no longer sleep, no longer eat.  I lost my daughter. She was and still is my life. My only goal in life to be there for her and to support her. I felt like that was also taken away from me. I was barely functional and basically mourning. Nights were the worst, I would toss and turn and never could settle. That’s when I decided to do the SHTP. From that moment on I would get home from work and work on the boat in my shop until 3 or 4 in the morning until I just couldn’t stay awake anymore, then get up at 6 am and go to work. I used the SHTP as a means to cope. Not alcohol or drugs, or any other bad habit, I decided to start this journey and use it as a means to help me cope. Instead of turning to anger and frustration, which would have consumed me, I turned to this project to focus my energy on.  Over the last 4 years, I have focused on my relationship with my daughter, my work and the SHTP, keeping my nose to the grindstone.

Joseph Campbell describes a Hero’s Journey as something everyone needs to be taking, and not one journey but it’s a revolving journey. In basic terms he describes the parts of the journey as 1) separation- the life you once knew no longer exists; 2) leaving- the hero leaves on a quest to find what is missing; 3) journey- the journey along the way with people and experiences that help and fighting battles; and 4) return- not returning to the way things were but rather finding new meanings and returning as the hero with purpose.

After sailing along today looking at the ocean, seeing how many different colors of blue the sky and waters are, having the spinnaker flying to the perfect rhythm of the quartering waves, I realized I am living in the moment. A perfect moment. A moment very few people experience. My reason for the SHTP is my hero’s journey.  The actual race is but one small part of the trip. I will return to Hawaii in a week, where my exceptional daughter, my beautiful girlfriend and her wonderful boys will be waiting to welcome me. I won’t measure my journey and this experience by PHRF ratings.  Sure winning would have been incredible, but I now realize that I won my race, my journey, before the start gun last Saturday, the moment I talked with my daughter before the race.  I told her I was nervous and her reply was and has always been supportive. That’s when I realized she was being supportive because she has always felt supported in her life. That is what my hero’s journey, the 2018 SHTP, is about.

Dark Horse Update 6.30.18, 8 PM PST

More of the same conditions today, light sailing but really pleasant. I flew the spinnaker till 4 am then I got some rest. Last night was very enjoyable. Some stars and some bioluminescence. The lines that were on the cockpit floor would sparkle as I coiled them. I’m headed straight down the great circle route today and tonight. Looks like winds will be building over the next 3 days. I think I should be halfway tomorrow in the afternoon!  Looking forward to a fast run to Hanalei. I saw Dolfin and Jacklin yesterday and talked to them on vhf. I’m flying the A5 right now and moving along pretty nicely. I saw another albatross today and another smaller bird. The smaller bird was like the size of a Blue Jay, wondering what it is doing way out here.

3 thoughts on “This is what it’s about – reflections from Dark Horse”

  1. Great story, I did wonder what a good young man from Montana
    was doing sailing in the ocean, my admirations go out to you and all of the other skippers out there. My connection is Greg Ashby on the nightmare, I am his sisters father-in-law.

  2. Wow, DARK HORSE, what a wonderful read and congrats on your hero’s journey. You’ve won your race and I commend you for writing this up ‘cause it’s gonna be read by all sorts and you will never ever know how many people or whom you will have inspired to do whatever their hero’s journey is to be — hopefully more STPH ‘cause we love our SSS.

  3. Also huge thanks to SSSers and the forum so I finally found some write-up on the SHTP. I have been looking at the tracker, then going to the forum for updates and getting frustrated that there’s nothing new there. So again, thanks Skip, Tom, Bob and anyone else I failed to thank personally for getting me to the right place to read what’s going on. Miss all y’all. On my own journey down south and spending July 4th in Ft. Valley, GA with wonderful friends. Again, miss all y’all!

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