by Christine Kling
Imagine how vast the earth must have seemed to the 18 men from Magellan’s Expedition who completed the first circumnavigation in 1522 by arriving in Seville almost exactly 3 years after they departed. Over 200 men died including Magellan himself and they lost four ships on that arduous voyage.
How much has changed in 500 years! Our earth seems to be growing smaller and smaller today due to our ease of travel and communications. As one who still travels in a small ship at the slow 5 knot speed, I am often awed by just how much has changed in our perception of the size and complexity of our planet.
Wednesday morning, I awoke in Marsh Harbor aboard Talespinner tucked into the marina off the Jibroom and finished packing my bag for my little five-day adventure off to present a workshop on self publishing at the Blue Ridge Bookfest. Mike Jastrzebski came by and picked up the Yorkshire Terror’s crate and later he and Mary came and took the dog for a walk and then herded both dogs into their dinghy and an unsuspecting Barney found himself aboard their boat for the next five days.
While it had taken us three days of sailing to get to the Abacos, my flight lasted just under an hour and we arrived at the Fort Lauderdale airport. In minutes, I was whisked away from the island life of golf cart traffic, awaking to the crowing of roosters, and the big decisions like do I order the cracked conch or the conch chowder — to six lanes of rush hour traffic, bright city lights and everyone in a hurry. When the world around you changes that fast, it makes you sit back and examine the hustle of American life with new eyes.
I had a rather long To Do list for my one night layover in Lauderdale that included a trip to Frank & Jimmy’s Prop Shop for new zincs for my Max prop, a haircut and new lithium batteries for my Spot. As I was walking back to my car on one of these stops, I heard my name called out in the parking lot. I turned around and there I saw Pat and Joe Turner whom I’d first met aboard their boat LovePat (back in 2011?) at the Jibroom marina I had just left a few hours earlier. I stopped and we chatted and got caught up and I left shaking my head thinking about what a small place the world has become. I don’t imagine Magellan’s crew ran into any old friends when they arrived in the Mariannas Islands after crossing the Pacific.
In fact, the whole reason I am on this trip up to the Blue Ridge Bookfest is thanks to another cruising acquaintance, Joy Franklin whom I met with her husband Robert on their boat Arwen in the Chesapeake. So, yesterday afternoon when my flight landed in Asheville, there were my friends who picked me up, drove me to my hotel and then took me out for drinks and dinner in Hendersonville. New culture clash — from the beach-fueled tourist traffic to the piney woods and small town charm of Western North Carolina.
When I got back to my hotel room, I checked on my book sales on my computer and I saw that I’d sold seven books in the Kobo bookstore in Sri Lanka while I ate delicious goat cheese pizza, drank chianti and talked boats and dogs with Joy and Rob. I also had an email from Mary on Rough Draft reporting that Barney was settling in and not living up to his “terror” reputation. She sent me a photo and I like to think he looks like he’s missing me just a little
Magellan’s men would never have imagined a life as connected as mine. They would be astounded if they could have seen me hurtling through the air inside that jet while looking at my navigation program on my iPad and noting that the GPS told me our speed over ground was 420 knots. I watched as the little boat icon traveled at that speed across Georgia and South Carolina via my Garmin BlueChart app.
It was Socrates who said “The unexamined life is not worth living.” I would perhaps say instead that examination of life makes it all the more rich. Because I live so much of my life at 5 knots, I appreciate the wonder of traveling at 420 knots, of moving from tropical beaches to cool mountains in 24 hours, and of being connected to the far corners of the earth via the magic of the world wide web.
My world may seem to be growing smaller, but I still regard it with awe.
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