November 19, 2007 - Freeport, Maine:
April 23, 2008 - Red Hook, St.Thomas USVI:
At the risk of invoking the world's most overused cliche hippie mantra....
"What a long, strange trip it's been."
I flew home yesterday. Many of you out there may be wondering why.... a few of you have actually asked. Well, on the amazing journey of the past five months, all three members of Team Audax have learned much about themselves; from each other, from strangers..... and from the sea. One of the many things I have learned about myself, is that I just plain wasn't cut out for long, multi-day, offshore bluewater passages. This is not a speculative assumption; I learned it first hand during the four day bluewater passage from South Caicos to Puerto Rico. That was only four days, and it went very smoothly, with pleasant conditions. The trip home from the Caribbean back to New England entails being hundreds of miles offshore for over 1000NM, which at 6kts boat speed equals about two weeks at sea. I can't do it.... the four day passage to Puerto Rico was about the limit of what I could handle. I never would have suspected this about myself. It's quite humbling..... and that's a good thing for me. I learn by doing. As my dad used to say to me as a kid: "It's gonna hafta hurt before you'll learn!". Truism, that.
So now I sit at Chelsi's house in New Hampshire, typing up my final blog entry, and I'm trying my best not to cry. Led Zeppelin's "Houses of the Holy" is playing in the background, and Chelsi's two dogs are whining because I'm typing instead of entertaining them. What an incredible journey this has been.....
A few years back, Adrienne and I were hiking the Morse Mountain trail, and Adrienne accidentally and unknowingly dropped her cel phone on the ground. It was found by another hiker later, and this hiker tracked us down and returned it to us. This kind stranger was none other than Team Audax founder John "Triggs Huntington" Herrigel. We became acquaintances. He attended the 5th annual St.Jean Holiday Bash. In the spring of 2007, John asked me over to his house on York Street to discuss.... stuff. During this discussion, in an unrelated tangential comment, John made reference to "....this boat trip I have coming up in the fall....". "What boat trip?", I asked. A fantasy was born right then, right there, that day on York Street. He informed me that he and his longtime friend Jordi (who's family, ironically enough, owns the Morse Mountain property where the cel phone was lost) were planning to somehow spend the next winter cruising the Virgin Islands on a sailboat. I had been fantasizing for years about doing the exact same thing.
What resulted, is the adventure chronicled in the blog you are now reading.
So, now that it's over (for me)... where do I start? It's overwhelming. hhmmm.... how about a tribute..... to....
When John, Jordi and I were discussing this adventure over spaghetti / fresh bread dinner in the cockpit during my final night aboard, we all concurred the following:
The fact that three totally different guys, with three male egos, three different backgrounds, and three different life agendas were able to co-habitiate on a 38ft sailboat for five months without punching each others' lights out, is just plain INCREDIBLE. Think about it, people.... what are the odds?? It's a true blessing. Open mindedness, willingness to compromise, and an open forward communication style all teamed up to make it possible. Add to this the following yin/yang balance: Jordi and I are two opposite styles of people, which we have openly acknowledged to each other, with mutual respect. On the spectrum of plan-everything-in-advance vs just-go-with-the-flow, Jordi is at one end, and I am at the other. Throw John right in the middle to oscillate back and forth between the two ends of the spectrum as the swing-vote, and what you get is the perfect yin/yang balance in the Team Audax mojo. X=0. It just plain could NOT have worked out any other way. What are the odds of getting this combo by luck of the draw? They are astronomical. There is a Higher Power at work here, folks. I truly believe this in my heart.
JORDI ST. JOHN
Like the younger brother I never had. I have a lot of respect for this guy. He is very ambitous, meticulous, thorough, with a saucy competitive streak that can get him in trouble but is fun as hell to watch. Reminds of me when I was his age, when Ski Instructor Certification and attending as many Phish concerts as possible were my burning ambitions. He has his Captain's license, and was made for a career on boats. He's a natural, and he would make the best ever delivery/charter captain, if he chooses to do so. I have no doubt in my mind that he will excel in whatever he chooses as a career (I hope it involves boats), just as he has excelled at nordic skiing, the Spring Summer and Fall Days competitions, beating Josh and John at tennis, and last but not least, the card game of "hearts". I know this epic journey has solidified a strong bond between us which has only just begun. "Zat was a spicy-a-meat-a-ball!" will always make me chuckle. Love ya, Bro!
Like the other younger brother I never had. John and I had so many deep Ego vs Spirituality discussions that we could burn them on CD and sell them as a career. And I mean sell them to Comedy Central, not Oprah. We have both embarked on the same spiritual journey, at roughly the same pace, with similar ups and downs, guided by our new spiritual quasi-mentors Ekhart Tolle and Michael Brown. This has produced a very special bond between us that will never be broken, regardless of where our respective journeys take us. Did y'all know that John Herrigel is a serial entrepreneur? That's right. He once started his very own ice cream business! And sea salt, too! That's right! That kicks ass. His newest post-cruise endeavour has lots of potential to be "the big one", and I wish him the best of luck with it. "That's a good call." Love ya, Bro!
Our favorite lady. She has treated us so well. I have no doubts whatsoever about her abilities to carry my brothers home safely. Much love and thanks to this sassy lady. More cruising to come in the Gulf of Maine Summer - see ya then!
My two new brothers, and two new additions to Team Audax are undertaking a HUGE adventure with the bluewater passage home. Think about it: over 1000NM, 12 or so days at sea, hundreds of miles offshore with no land in sight. That's huge. (Follow all the action at http://www.caribbeanendeavour.com/ ) If there were ever a suitable context to invoke the term "Godspeed", this is it:
GODSPEED, TEAM AUDAX!
Last, but certainly not least, words cannot do justice to the huge amount of GRATITUDE I feel. I feel so very blessed to have experienced this adventure of a lifetime. There is simply no way that my mortal human mind could have orchestrated such an incredible experience. I truly believe it could only have been created by a Higher Power.
So, from the bottom of my heart:
THANK YOU John!
THANK YOU Jordi!
THANK YOU S/V Audax!
THANK YOU to all the friends and family who visited us in Caribbean paradise and/or faithfully followed the blogs!
THANK YOU God!
Sincerely, with much love and gratitude,
Steve M. St.Jean
[NOTE: This IS, in fact, my FINAL blog post. Hence the title of this entry: "The End". A very special thanks to all the loyal readers out there - you truly made the blog worth writing. I appreciate all of your comments and/or emails along the way.]