Estar: Where the Journey is the Destination By Lark Pelling

Estar: Where the Journey is the Destination By Lark Pelling

I have always loved the idea of traveling in my own home to visit places far away. I’ve done a bit in a van, and in the back of a car, but to float your home to a new destination, to visit places starting from the shore, is the sort of journey I wanted to try. Of course it seemed daunting at first. The map of the sea is different. There are no roads on the open ocean with signs telling you where to go and what to do. But yet still there are signs – the wind, the water, the currents – I just didn’t yet know how to read them or how to interpret them. It has been an incredible trajectory of learning propelled by the highs and lows unique, I think, to sailing. There aren’t that many middle-of-the-road moments out here and the teaching and learning that come from the distance between the two is extraordinary.

I don’t know that there was ever a moment that it “clicked” per se, but gradually I have come to appreciate how much I do know now. It is impossible not to learn constantly. Everything gives you feedback. Everything has consequences. And with the gaining of knowledge comes a realization that the learning will never end but the scary unknowns will fade a bit. And thankfully they are no longer the first thing that rears up when something goes wrong. In its place is my new mantra – there is always a reason…. I don’t always know right away what that reason is - what has caused the anchor to drag or a line to catch or a power supply to fizzle, but there is always a reason. And now I know enough to buy myself time, think it through, trace it back and then, hopefully, hopefully, find the solution.

Sailing this boat, captaining this boat, has brought me so much joy and so much peace, even as I sometimes tire of worrying that my home will crash into the land or another home crash into mine or we will all sink into the sea. But that is what keeps me so present and so ready to soak in the lessons. There is no hiding. You simply have to be. Take what comes. Figure it out.

My trip with Captain Mike down the west coast of Baja was the start of a transformation I could not have understood nor anticipated if I tried. His calm often unspoken assurance that I could do it sunk in as the days and the nautical miles passed by. His belief in me and the mighty Pacific underneath carried me into this place. I will not soon forget how it felt at the helm those early days on a middle-of-night watch, my heart soaring up with the swell, breath flying down the face, cushioned by the black night holding me and my boat. In those moments it did not, and still does not, matter that I can’t remember the name of all the parts of this boat, tie all the knots, or yet understand exactly how to do any of it, really. It is simply enough to be there as a witness and participant in it all. To embody the name I gave my boat – Estar, To Be. 

And with each person I place on the boat and each anchorage I travel to, “I am the captain” takes on a new more significant meaning. It means not at all that “I am in charge” as I thought it would, implying I know everything and can order it all into submission. I know now it means simply that I am responsible and I have a beloved duty to care for this boat and also for the people I place upon her. There lies the juxtaposition, for I am the least powerful force in all the forces I am surrounded by out here, but I am also the most powerful I have ever been. And so now I shake my head at the wonder of it all. What a trip, what a journey, what a gift to know I will never be the same.