Older, Wiser and Again Facing Open Ocean

Having transited the Panama Canal and fresh off Carnaval, adventurers Neville and Catherine Hockley are venturing across the Pacific on their sailboat Dream Time.

But this time is nothing like the last time Neville Hockley left land behind and ventured into the open water to cross an ocean.

View photos of Dream Time's trip and join ABC News in tracking Dream Time's travels.

Read the latest excerpts from the Hockleys' adventure below and visit the boat's Web site to learn more about their journey.

March 3, 2009. Day 642: Las Perlas, Panama


Neville Hockley writes: In the next week, Catherine and I will launch ourselves into the Pacific to begin a journey that will take us away from the Americas and across to the other side of the world -- a fact that I'm only now beginning to truly appreciate.

We're currently anchored in Las Perlas, a small cluster of about a hundred islands just 40 miles away from Panama City. It feels a little like we're cautiously inching our way closer to the edge of a great abyss and steeling ourselves to jump. While I'm confident that we've done absolutely everything we can to ensure our Pacific crossing will be a safe, enjoyable and hopefully rewarding experience, the sheer magnitude of what's ahead is sobering -- thousands upon thousands of miles of open ocean, passages that will require 15, 20, 30 days of sailing, no "safe harbors" to seek refuge in, no BoatUS or SeaTow to offer assistance and no turning back.

It's been 15 years since my last ocean crossing (the Indian Ocean). I was 24 and had none of the responsibility I have now. Confident, a little arrogant, but mostly blissfully ignorant of the realities of such a passage, I dove in headfirst with little to no regard for the potential dangers. Ultimately, I had the adventure of a lifetime at an age when consequence and risk didn't even factor in to the equation, only the raw thrill and excitement of a life-changing voyage that began in 1994 and in many ways I'm still navigating to this day.

There are few comparisons between my last adventure and this one. Age, experience and responsibility have perhaps softened a little of the reckless, free-spirited adventurism I felt before, but I know that sailing with Catherine on this voyage, sharing the experiences with the woman I love, will make for a far more fulfilling journey.

Safety is certainly top of mind. Before, the idea of a catastrophic accident, pirates, shipwreck or a great storm were irresponsibly welcomed -- all part of the adventure, a "that which does not kill us makes us stronger" attitude. So when we set off from Sydney to sail halfway around the world to Italy, I didn't even stop to consider why we didn't have a life raft or an EPIRB (emergency radio beacon) on board. We never wore life jackets, not even in the worst conditions, and rarely "clipped-on" safety harnesses. But with photocopied charts of the Red Sea, old car tires lashed to the deck for an emergency sea anchor and absolutely no ocean-crossing experience between us, we boldly sailed more than 13,000 miles and arrived in Rome almost six months later, miraculously with our health and the boat still intact.

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