Add Another Dreamer to the List

DreamlandI wonder if we’re all great dreamers, we who are drawn to the sea and sail.

My dream starts with my name, Meredith, Welsh for “guardian of the sea” or “great chief. I’m called “Mer” by those who love me, “Meri” by those close to me. I was almost “Emily Jane,” but my father saved me and my mother chose well in her second try. I was born in Orlando, under a strong water sign.

My father’s father loved the sea, was in the US Coast Guard during WWII, always had boats of one sort or another and lived in Florida. Regrettably, he was a drunk, so I never sailed with him, never knew anything of boats except for his never-completed houseboat that sat on stilts on Florida’s Atlantic coast until after he died in his eighties.

But I grew up close enough to the sea to love it, visiting my grandparents regularly enough through my childhood to make it to the ocean or the Gulf at least once a year through my nineteenth year.

I’ve always lived close enough to some major body of water: Lake Lanier, in Georgia; the Ohio River, when in Cincinnati; Lake Ontario, while in Canada. I always loved watching sailboats from the shore, always loved walking around marinas, always thought of sailing “one day” – with never a hope of realizing that dream.

Until, one day, I met a man while serving at a local restaurant who was moving onto a sailboat in Hamilton Harbor. Instantly excited, I asked him all about it – and we became fast friends.

A year later, I visited his boat for the first time. It was love at first step – with the boat, not the man. We shared a couple of beers on deck and all I could think was how much I wanted to see below, wondered how it must feel to sleep on this gently-rocking creature.

Two weeks later, I learned. I brought dinner, a bottle of wine and a movie this time; we started with beers, drank the bottle of wine more quickly than we realized, sampled his impressive Scotch collection as we settled below for the film. My eyes roamed the warmly-golden interior of this sweet boat; I imagined taking her out, freeing her in the wind, of spending days and nights on this beauty. What a lucky man my friend was.

Not sober enough to drive – or walk – home on this chilly night, he settled me on a narrow berth with a sleeping bag and hopped onto his berth. I slept better than I had slept in years, better than I have in years since, waking early to the occasional ringing of steel on the mast in the gently-blowing wind. I was excited; this was bliss.

Swan in the HarborEverything changed, from that moment forward. My perception of the town changed, my life opened up suddenly, and I finally knew why I had never been at home in any apartment, in any house on land: My home was not on land; it was on the sea.

It was not long before I started looking for a sailboat of my own, through which I found a skipper seeking crew for weekly races in the bay. My enthusiasm trumped my lack of experience; I was immediately accepted, along with two more experienced sailors, and – in the two seasons we raced – went from last place to second and then first in our class, winning the title of “Most Improved” for the year.

Chasing the WindI never missed a race. I loved being “The Main Babe,” loved hauling in taut lines as I grew quickly stronger each week. I loved the camaraderie of our crew, the instantaneous friendship that came of working towards a common goal, of simultaneous enjoyment of full sails and rushing water beneath our bow. Every moment was complete; this was everything.

The dream led me to shed almost everything I owned, led me back home to rebuild my long-neglected relationship with my family, led me to meet and crew on a trimaran at speeds I never knew one could make under the force of the wind. Led me to a new skipper whose great knowledge of sailing and of boats will aid to the final realization of my dream.

Amidst all this, I write. I love the experience of sharing food and drink with good companions, love the brilliance of chefs smitten with the creation of delicious, beautifully-presented substance.

Mine is The Dream: Sail and write and travel, enjoying new places and foods and people, sharing all I can with those I meet, with those who read my words and view my photos.

So, why am I here? Why am I not yet on the sea, sailing from coast-to-coast?

I’m still looking, still sailing through my life, still learning.

The journey is so important, and those with whom one travels are equally important. I’ll find the ones with whom I’ll travel next, or they’ll find me – the ones who give for the sake of giving, who love for the sake of loving, who expect little and learn much. From them, I’ll learn; with them, I’ll sail – on the sea, and through life.

To be plain: I’m looking to learn what else I need to know of sailing, of traveling.

Looking forward to meeting more dreamers, here and on the seas.

Originally posted on Cruiser’s Forum,

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