An audio and video podcast of my trip hitchhiking around the world by sea.
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A Moment To Remember

New York City, New York.

Yesterday was cold and spitting. Today, the sun overcame. Light fell across the city like golden ropes through a dirty sky. Beams dropped to dark streets and a grey river that swam round our Lady Liberty. She held her torch high, as an orphan raises a cup for rice. Eventually, the sun took notice pouring its warmth over our national icon. Seagulls squealed in delight dashing in and out of the fallen light.

Today is my anniversary. Exactly, one year ago today, almost to the hour, myself and an old friend from college pulled anchor and sailed East, ready to see and change the world. With every wave, we moved further from our old lives, our families, all that was familiar. The sails were high. Our goals were higher. Weeks earlier I called Dan from Flagstaff, Arizona. We spoke of dreams, adventure, boundaries. I left the establishment of comfort and security including a great job in Sales and Marketing and started this new chapter of life.

The boat glided up, then down, and continued to repeat as the sun dropped below the land etched on the western horizon. It was a beautiful sunset. Then darkness fell and like a child stripped of his nightlight, tension grew. Unlike Dan, I had never sailed before, not a day(or night) in my life. Everything was new. The sea was darker and bigger than I’d ever known. I took the first shift to sleep ( a routine we would practice for months to come). In the galley of this 33 foot boat, I laid on my back in the middle of the floor, the lowest point in the boat to minimize the motion. In my berth, was born every doubt and fear of a new sailor and life. Eventually I slept, only to be woken for my shift.

My bloodless hands squeezed the tiller. Every mistake and overcorrection was emphasized with the battering of sails asking to be filled. Every large wave raised larger fear, and unaware of the self-correcting tendencies of a sailboat the thought of capsizing was often and real. 15 hours later we reached the Bahamas, greeted with subtle seas. The sun that hours before abandoned me returned full, bright and warm. In retrospect it was a fairly mild sail, but as my first, it will be remembered as long and threatening.

One year and 16 countries later I am sitting in a coffee shop in Manhattan, thinking. I am a changed man. I think it is impossible to see so many cultures, places, so many people different from you and not come out different yourself. Yet not all has changed. I sit here with the same burning to “do” something. Not just see, not just taste–Do! There is so much to do in this world. There are so many needs unseen and untended to. I don’t pretend to be a “savior”, if anything I understand how much larger these challenges are than myself. But I am still convinced, I can do something. I can make some kind of a difference.

I battle to balance real with ideal. But doesn’t every intended change began with a dream? I don’t know what the future holds. I guess nobody does. There a lot of things up in the air. There are things I’d hoped to have accomplished by now. There are things I still hope to. I was recently able to return home, to see family and laugh with friends. It was comfortable and familiar… nice. Yet there is still more. I would like to return home, to visit my family, to hold my beautiful niece on her first Christmas. But before I do, I want to “do” at least one more thing.

In the past year, many of you have dug deep, in a hurting economy, and donated money that impacted several lives. We still have some of that money left. I have in the past months contacted several organizations to locate a need. To my frustration, several of those requested a significant amount to “volunteer” with an organized group. I understand there are costs to organize, and applaud these companies for the many good things they are doing. However, I can’t help but think we can stretch these precious dollars further. I am going to try to do just that.

With no specific need or contact I will travel to South America, to the 8th largest country in the world Famous for steak, wine, and tango, I will look for a person, a group, a need. I don’t know how or who, but I don’t think it will be too hard to find something, or someone who has fallen on tough times. And with the last of the monies raised, we are going impact somebody’s life.

Argentina… here I come.


1 Tim Dodwell { 12.02.08 at 7:20 am }

Hi Derek, Not sure if there is a easier way to contact you, as your contact page seems faulty. I am part of a company whos aim to support volunteer work, and it would be great to have some of your experience and articles. If this is something that interests you, please send me an email. Regards

2 John Kimble { 12.08.08 at 3:00 pm }

Please don’t cry for Derek, Argentina!

3 Colleen Dyck { 12.08.08 at 4:39 pm }

Ha! just happened upon your blog. . somehow. . love it!! Our family is counting down and saving up for a trip we also plan to take by sea with another family and all our kids.. . .I’m watching your blog for tips. . keep on keepin on!

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