• Sage Webb

On the Road Again; It’s Harder Alone; I’m No Bernard Moitessier

As I set out in my 15’ travel trailer The Pryde (named for Jean Lafitte’s ship), I don’t feel terribly excited. I’m pointed north, on my way to spend three weeks on Michigan’s Mackinac Island as an artist/writer in residence. I’ll wander to get there and I’ll wander back. But the interesting stops on my list don’t seem so very interesting without The Bosun aboard. The dive trip I booked for the Straits of Mackinac feels more like a mere “thing” without my dive buddy.

So reading Jean-Michael Barrault’s Moitessier: A Sailing Legend right now feels weird. Bernard Moitessier came to popular notice in the 1960s when he passed on finishing/winning the 1968-69 Golden Globe Race and becoming the first person to circumnavigate nonstop singlehanded. He just kept sailing. Alone.

He pops up from time to time in popular works as an example of an eccentric purist. Michael Finkel cites him in The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit. Finkel looks at Moitessier as an example of a solitary adventurer in a noisy world, referring to Moitessier’s The Long Way as an “adventure tale[] offering superb insight into solitude, both its horror and its beauty.”

While I love the road and the sea alone, while the cat made a fine and sufficient crew member before The Bosun joined our company, well, today, being alone hurts a little.

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