Mel Reflects on Cruising with the World’s Greatest Thinkers

Mel Reflects on Cruising with the World’s Greatest Thinkers

The Burnetts are hosting some last-minute guests.  Our guests realized the end of our cruising adventure was approaching and decided to stop by for an up-close look at boat life.  We have a crowd circling the tables in the aft cockpit and saloon, and it’s getting a bit wild in the galley.  It’s a warm night tonight.  It’s a good thing most of our guests are dead.

Excuse me, good readers.  Mel must repair to the front cockpit.  Immanuel Kant and Walt Whitman are wrestling again.

Argument quashed, Mel passes around gin & tonics and then joins in on the conversation.  Apparently the guests had already begun a discussion on why she left and the benefits of travel.

Henri-Frederic Amiel:  Maybe she left so that she could learn to limit herself, to content herself with some definite thing, and some definite work; dare to be what she is, and learn to resign with a good grace all that she is not, and to believe in her own individuality.

Kahlil Gibran: But I think she is a natural nomad.  We wanderers, ever seeking the lonelier way, begin no day where we have ended another day; and no sunrise finds us where sunset left us. Even while the earth sleeps we travel.

Tennessee Williams: Yes, I agree!  Make voyages. Attempt them. There is nothing else.  Oh, got any more salsa back there?

Descartes: Hey Mel, weren’t you nervous when you started out?  After all, you and Greg first started sailing just one year before you set out.

Some old fart from Cruiser’s Forum: I can’t believe you did that.  No one has any business cruising in a big cat unless they grew up on a lake sailing Optimists, like me.

Mel: Well, I was a little nervous of course, but after a while you just have to stop preparing and go!

Mark Twain: I know how you must have felt.  I’ve lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.

Descartes: Yes. Conquer yourself rather than the world.  So, do you think the kids got anything out of your trip?

Mel:  I asked them this, and eventually they told me that they realize now that there are a lot of different conditions kids can grow up in, but even so, they are all “kind of the same.”

Mark Twain: Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.

Everyone reflects and munches their chips.  With a loud roar, a dinghy comes to a sudden stop at the port transom.  Captain Ron hops out.

Captain Ron: Hey, anyone know how to get to Ted’s?  I’ve had this problem with the tides before.  Hey, looks like you are having a party!

Captain Ron settles in between Thoreau and Einstein.

Descartes:  So, we hear you crashed your boat.

Mel: Yes.  Would rather not talk about it. 

Captain Ron: Ehhh…don’t worry about it Mel, it could happen to anyone.  If anything’s gonna happen, it’ll happen out there.

Truman Capote:  Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor.  Hey, got any more olives?

Descartes: Failure? Except our own thoughts, there is nothing absolutely in our power.

Oscar Wilde: Yes, but experience is merely the name men give to their mistakes.

Maya Angelou: You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.

Mel is happy there is a woman here.

Lord Byron comes out from the galley, wiping his hands on his apron.

Mel: “Lord Byron!  We know you!  We saw your name carved into the Temple of Poseidon at Sounion in Greece.”

Lord Byron: “I had a little too much Samian wine that night.”

Mel: “What’s for dinner?”

Lord Byron: A woman should never be seen eating or drinking, unless it be lobster salad and champagne.

Mel: Not sure about the underlying message there, but the food sounds good!

Lord Byron: Let us have wine and women, mirth and laughter, sermons and soda water the day after!  Eat up!

Descartes, his mouth full of lobster: So, what has your adventure taught you about the world?

Mel: There is a fantastic variety of cultures out there, and generosity is universal. 

Bill Bryson: But that’s the glory of foreign travel, as far as I am concerned.  I can’t think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything. Your whole existence becomes a series of interesting guesses.

Mel: I also concluded that Europe is both strengthened and saddled by the physical and mental remains of its long past, and hurricane-prone Caribbean nations cannot thrive on tourism alone if they want to continue to be independent.

Marcel Proust: Ah, yes.  The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.

Mel excuses herself to go to the bathroom.  Lord Byron corners Mel in her hull.

Mel: Hey, great lobster salad!  Thanks!

Lord Byron, close-talking: She walks in beauty, like the night, of cloudless climes and starry skies.

Mel: Lord Byron, I appreciate how a sailing woman could excite your sensibilities, but I am married!  Besides, you aren’t in the game anyway.  It’s between Bill Bryson and Mark Twain.  They’re funnier.

Lord Byron stomps off.

Mel returns on deck to find that everyone is piling on the topsides to look at the stars.

Descartes:  You’ve decided to stop cruising.  What will you miss?

Mel: Probably the absolute freedom to determine what I do every day.

Mark Twain: I can see that.  Never put off till tomorrow what may be done day after tomorrow just as well.

Descartes: Then why are you going back to work?

Mel: Er, —

Terry Pratchett: I can answer that for her.  Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.

Mel:  Yes.  I am too young not to contribute.

Kant: Sounds like you got listless.  I would have said, “The busier we are, the more acutely we feel that we live, the more conscious we are of life.” 

George Bernard Shaw: Well, I think your travels were a success!  Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.

Douglas Adams:  I hope you can say after this, “I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.” 

Percy Shelley: But joy, once lost, is pain. 

Mel: Shut up, Shelley.

Descartes: Is it going to be sad to sell the boat?

Mel: Yes.

Immanuel Kant: We are not rich by what we possess but by what we can do without.

Shelley: Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought. The pleasure that is in sorrow is sweeter than the pleasure of pleasure itself.


Lord Byron:

So, we’ll go no more a-roving
So late into the night,
Though the heart still be as loving,
And the moon still be as bright.

For the sword outwears its sheath,
And the soul wears out the breast,
And the heart must pause to breathe,
And love itself have rest.

Though the night was made for loving,
And the day returns too soon,
Yet we’ll go no more a-roving
By the light of the moon.

Mel: Okay, who invited the Romantic poets?

Confucious: Best wishes, Mel.  Wherever you go, go with all your heart. 

Mel: Well, everyone, thank you for all of your great thoughts, but party’s over.  Please be careful going back.  And it looks like someone needs to drive Shelley’s dinghy back for him.

Shelley: I have drunken deep of joy, and I will taste no other wine tonight. 

Mel: Yes, that’s very nice.  Please go away.

Captain Ron: Great party, boss!  Just remember, guys, if you get lost in the future, just pull in somewheres and ask for directions!  But, seriously, which way is Ted’s?

5 Responses

  1. Kelle musehl
    | Reply

    I really enjoyed reading of your adventures. I so admire your freedom and ‘balls’ to go to sea. And to do it for two years wow! Your family has so much living in that amount of time. Thank you thank you for sharing these memoirs with everyone , ps PLEASE come back to work -Kelle

    • Mel
      | Reply

      Thanks, Kelle! Might end up a little more south, though.

  2. Ken Nellis
    | Reply

    This is awesome!!! I enjoyed every word.

  3. Edie Webber
    | Reply

    You are a clever girl and surrounded by such witty friends! I am keeping this one and sharing too.
    I am also a traveler who always wants to see what’s around the corner. Life is so short and the earth so big! I need 2 lifetimes to soak it all in.
    Why don’t you keep Marvin and just charter him out? There are management companies/ services that will take over maintenance and use him for charter… that way he is earning his own keep but the promise of your next journey is still there. No divorce, just rearranging the relationship. (Flexjet does this, should I ever need a place to park my G7)

    • Mel
      | Reply

      Edie, Thanks! It was a fun one to write! We’d put Marvin in charter if we didn’t know too well what charterers can do to boats. We love him too much for that!

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