The “Cruising Stories” series is a collection of glimpses into the lives of other cruisers, the good and the bad, the tough times and the rewards that are inherent in this lifestyle. Most are taken from blog or Facebook posts (with permission, of course) to help those who are thinking of heading out know what it’s really like, both the wonder of this life and the days when you wonder why you ever had this cockamamie idea.
The origin of this story is a little different, but it is every bit as compelling. I was given an advance review copy of Caspar Craven’s Where the Magic Happens, the story of his family’s five years of preparation and then not-quite-two-year circumnavigation.
The entire book is a wonderful tale of a family (parents and three kids) that created a dream and made it come true. I highly recommend it. I love this quote from Caspar as it perfectly reflects my own thoughts on life: “Magic happens when you decide to step beyond your comfort zone.”
You may choose a different path to cruising, where you go and how you do it — or you may even decide on a different adventure. That’s what makes it yours. Reading how the Cravens did it will give a glimpse into what’s involved and how it can happen. And if you read it and find yourself saying “well, I might do that a little differently . . . ” guess what? You’re on the way to making your own plan.
The book’s prologue and first bit of the introduction makes an excellent cruising story, and I was graciously given permission to reprint them here, along with several of the Craven’s photos. You can buy the complete book on Amazon (hard copy came out yesterday, Kindle version will be out in May and you can pre-order now):
- Where the Magic Happens on Amazon
It’s pitch black. My hands, the saloon, the cockpit — everything reeks of diesel. The wind is howling outside and we are being thrown around as Aretha, our 53-foot sailboat, slides off one wave into the next, whitewater crashing over the lifelines, ﬁlling the cockpit. We are drifting sideways.
Aretha is hove-to, slowed down in a sailing maneuver that lessens the boat’s motions while we ﬁgure things out. The sails are set one on each side of the boat and the steering wheel is lashed down on one side. Nichola and I are physically exhausted. Every 20 minutes one of us wakes and wearily climbs up on deck to make sure no boats are bearing down on us.
We have experienced a power failure. We can’t start our generator or engine. And while Aretha is a sailboat, we nevertheless have no electronic navigation, no autopilot to steer the boat, no communications, no navigation lights, no lights down below (except our ﬂashlights), no stove, no marine toilets, no way to pump water from our water tanks.
We are, as they say, dead in the water.
Nichola and I are wearing our foul-weather gear, sleeping in the saloon instead of our bunks. Our three children are in our cabin at the stern where there is less movement with the rise and fall of each wave, and where they will get the most sleep.
The saloon, a space smaller than your average kitchen, looks like it has been ravaged by an intruder. The ﬂoorboards are up, tools and spare engine parts are everywhere, and Nichola and I are covered in grease and grime from wrestling with the engine. We still can’t determine the cause of our power failure.
We are in one of the remotest parts of the world, deep in the Paciﬁc Ocean, more than 500 miles from the nearest piece of land, which itself is a tiny rock in the vast Paciﬁc. There are no rescue services out here. We truly are on our own. There are three other boats within 100 miles but there’s not much they can do to help. It’s pretty unfeasible for them to sail 100 miles and come alongside in 30-foot seas. We feel extremely isolated. We have to ﬁgure out the solution ourselves.
It’s just the ﬁve of us: Nichola, my wife, age 43, our three young children — ages 9, 7, and 2 — and me, age 42.
How did our young family arrive mid-Paciﬁc aboard Aretha, wave-tossed, without navigation instruments or power?
When we planned to sail around the world with our three children to create magical life-changing experiences, this wasn’t quite what we had in mind. We had imagined deserted tropical islands and snorkeling beautiful reefs. We had experienced all of that, true enough, and it was magical. What we would discover, though, is that the true “magic” happens on a much deeper level. We learned in our moments of adversity the power of working together as a team. Our toughest times became some of our most deﬁning moments. We used the skills and tools I’ll share with you in these pages when the going got rough. Magic happens when you decide to step beyond your comfort zone — when you challenge your beliefs, decide what you want, and make it happen by following through with resolute determination.
On that dark Paciﬁc night, we worked together to solve a vexing problem that two years earlier would have frightened and panicked us. Instead we had settled the boat, settled our selves, and were working through the issues. We ﬁgured out how to survive and thrive in the face of adversity — a skill we all need for dealing with life. The seeds for how we survived were sown ﬁve years earlier. This power loss would eventually become one of our proudest experiences working together as a family team.
Along with challenging moments in mountainous seas and wild storms, our journey was ﬁlled with countless magical, shared experiences of the world: we explored and delighted in the Galapagos Islands, climbed the Mount Yasur volcano, swam with sharks in the Tuamoto Islands, brought humanitarian aid to a disaster zone in Vanuatu, and were entranced by warm welcomes the world over.
Many people assume you need to be wealthy before you can live your dream. We did it the other way around. We made the decision to put our dream ﬁrst and then created the wealth to make it happen. The reality is that to live your dreams — whatever they are — you need to make a committed decision, be extremely resourceful, and then, go make things happen.
Where the Magic Happens tells how the spark of an idea developed into a decision that created a full-blown, life-changing adventure that transformed our lives, our relationships, and our fortunes. Nichola and I stepped out of our suburban commuter lifestyle, way beyond our comfort zones, undertaking something that challenged each of us, forcing us to grow in ways that we never imagined.
- Where the Magic Happens on Amazon