Once upon a time
there was a sailor who had no fingers, but he did have the audacity to
sail across the Atlantic Ocean single-handed. It was a fingers-optional
voyage. When he arrived at the other side, people didn't believe he did
it. In fact, they said it couldn't be done. To sail a boat with two
arms and legs, and ten fingers and toes is hard enough in the best of
times. But to them, sailing across an ocean with no fingers was more
than improbable. It was impossible. After all, how could he pull on
the halyards to raise the sails, and how could he pull on the sheets to
trim the sails. The naysayers and disbelievers were wrong once again,
because sailing across oceans isn't about fingers. It's about how you
run your mind. Where there's a will, there's a way, and a fingers
optional voyage on the seven seas simply means you have to be a little
more clever in the way you run your yacht. More often than not,
improbable and impossible can't stand up in the face of a man who wants
to make his dreams come true.
People are doing the improbable and seemingly
impossible all the time, and the naysayers and disbelievers haven't gone
away either. While we were sailing transatlantic in December 2005,
there were competitors in rowboats making the same voyage under paddle
power. You know, row, row, row your boat, gently across the Gulf
Stream, merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream. The
statement, "Where there is a will, there is a way," isn't just positive
thinking drivel. It's the truth for thousands of people who make their
dreams come true. A dedicated rower putting his all into it can beat
sailors across a windless sea. The improbable and the impossible strike
again and again.
Don't forget about Tristan Jones, the man who sailed
without legs. He didn't start out that way. When he was in his
fifties, he had blocked blood vessels in one of his legs that resulted
in an above the knee amputation. Tristan was a life-long sailor in
monohull sailboats, and he found it difficult to sail on the seven seas
with only one leg because balance was a problem when the sailboat heeled
over. The solution to this dilemma was obvious. Trade in his tipsy
monohull sailboat for a stable sailing platform - a trimaran. That's
exactly what he did. He purchased an old trimaran in California and
proceeded to sail it around the world to Thailand. He named his
trimaran Outward Leg.
Most people would give up sailing if they were sixty
years old and had only one leg, but not Tristan Jones. He sailed the
waters of Thailand for several years before disaster
struck again. He had a blot clot in his other leg, and it had to be
amputated above the knee as well. Now he was a sailor who didn't have a
leg to stand on.
Undaunted, he sold his trimaran and purchased a flush
deck catamaran. He scooted around the deck of his yacht using a
skateboard. Getting on and off his floating home was a challenge. He
rigged a small crane using a whisker pole, and friends
used this contraption to transport him on and off the boat in a cage of
his own design. He continued to sail the waters of Thailand until he
died several years later. Good on you Tristan. You showed us that legs
are optional if you really want to sail the seven seas.
When we started our transatlantic
voyage, we met a yacht crewed by British ex-servicemen, and every member
of the crew had lost a limb. They had one normal leg, and one
prosthesis to use for walking around on deck. They were sailing in the
British Limbless Ex-service Men's Association Atlantic Challenge 2005.
Their web site is www/blesma.org. These former soldiers moved
confidently on the deck of their large yacht as they sailed out of
Palmas Harbor in the Canary Islands. They would remain at sea for two
to three weeks to complete the transatlantic challenge.
Fingers optional and legs optional
sailing are good examples of what people can do when they follow their
dreams. It's nice to have fingers and legs, especially when you are
sailing on a yacht around the world. But, never forget it's not fingers
and legs that make your dreams come true. It's the way you run your
mind. When you follow your dreams and ignore the skeptics, the
improbable and seemingly impossible frequently do happen. So there you
have it. You must live as if your dreams are possible and work each day
to make them happen. Someday we may even see some of you out here
sailing on the ocean of your dreams.
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