It was mid-morning when I made my decision to jump ship, meaning, yes, go back to San Diego and leave “The Dream Trip” behind me — well only at least until I was a little closer to being ready for it. All morning, while I sat in an American-owned caf on the dock’s edge typing along on my Apple laptop, I sorted through the future of this quest I have become a part of. The thought of getting off the boat actually became the best solution to the problems that troubled my mind.
An old quote crossed my mind that morning: “Circumstance does not make the man, it reveals him to himself.” I spent the rest of that day thinking everything through. Telling myself I was going to leave was hard enough, and later that day I was going to have to tell Drude, Josie and Trent. Three people I had come to love, who had become family in that month and a half we lived, sailed, and surfed together. Later that evening when we were all on the boat I asked Drude if I could speak to him in private. We walked up the dock and I choked on my words, my eyes watered, then I finally got it out. The words came similar to how I had practiced saying it in my mind. It went something like, “Umm, I’mmm … I want to jump ship.” His face showed shock. I wonder if that was the same way I looked when I made the decision for myself earlier that day.
Suddenly Drude started yelling at me as if possessed. The harshest of words came flying out of his mouth and he stormed down the dock to the boat without me. He was cursing under his breath and when he got to the boat he began throwing my boards into the harbor water. At the same time he’s screaming at me to get all my other things off his boat now or they’re going in the water too. I stood in shock for a moment then I jumped in after my boards. I was fully clothed, swimming after a nine-board quiver that was floating into the jetty rocks. When I looked back, I saw my clothes and wetsuits being flung from the boat. At this point I forgot about my boards. I lost it, I got really pissed. I paddled back toward the boat full of rage prepared to sink his piece of $h!t sailboat. But before I could get back. Trent and Josie were on the deck armed with my surfboard fins. They began throwing them all at me! What were they so mad about? They were aiming for my head and keeping me away from the boat. So there I was, in the water, sitting up on my surfboard fully clothed, 20 yards away, dodging surfboard fins and screaming at those bastards at top of my lungs. This was about the time a crowd started to gather. Out of the corner of my eyes I saw a group of federales unlock the security gate and come running down to our dock. The crew immediately locked themselves inside the boat, and I, who hadn’t done anything wrong, paddled over to speak to the police. Without hesitation or gentleness they grabbed me up out of the water. Somehow they had got the wrong story. I was scared of where they might take me. Instinctively, I began to resist and tried my hardest to jump back in the water and swim out to sea. There were too many of them. The strength of two of them was needed to drag me down the splintery wooden dock pulling me away by my leg. Just like I am pulling your leg.
Actually, Drude is a compassionate person who offered me advice and invited me back as soon as I felt ready. I had to keep speaking and the words began to flow a little easier as I went on. I explained I was thinking about the future of this quest we had begun together and if it was going to work for everyone. I would take some time off, fly home to San Diego and come back in a month or so healthy, strong and stoked for the important Pacific Crossing. That is, a 14-to-30-day sail from the Galapagos Islands to the area of Tahiti without land in sight. After answering Drude’s questions and working out the details, we climbed back into the boat so I could speak to the group. The four of us sat together and tears were filling my eyes again. I told them what me and Drude had discussed. Then spoke to them more about how unprepared I was for this kind of a journey. Back in San Diego I had fun until the last minute, without a thought of what I was getting into. After sailing down Baja, I got an idea of what it’s going to take to go out on the ocean for three years. I reassured them that I am preparing for the future, committing to return before they reach the Galapagos Islands and to cross the Pacific with Drude on the Van Dieman strong, healthy and full of good energy. Josie and Trent were surprised by my choice. I had a feeling that they understood me after it all. They said it would be fine if I left and they asked if there was anything they could do. Trent said he would miss surfing with me and Josie mentioned my special maple syrup and asked that I come back soon.
That night we made plans to have weekly crew meetings from here on out. Regardless of who’s on board everyone would have to be involved. A time where we could all discuss any issues and talk about everything from that week in the open all together. We were all supportive of the idea and decided we would have the first one the next morning. This is where I should write how everyone blew up on each other and we all went our separate ways, leaving Drude alone with his boat. But that would only happen on a reality-TV-show series. Our real life was the opposite. We all had good things to say. We learned a little bit about how our perceptions differ. We discovered a bit more about where we all came from and how different families having separate beliefs made us each a bit different. I need to be asked to do something and I really don’t mind being asked but Drude doesn’t like to ask people to do things and none of us knew that. We worked out a few minor issues that morning. Perception is a gamble and weekly meetings are going to keep everyone in check. I stayed on the boat with everyone a few more days before flying out. We had a nice day on the beach and on another day hiked to a waterfall and then it was my time to go. Until March, I will have to read the “Van Dieman Dispatches” on Surfermag.com from my San Diego computer instead of writing them from the boat. I am looking forward to sailing on with Josie, Trent and Drude continuing “The Dream Trip.”
I have been home for a week. Here San Diego has given me a break from my other reality. I feel happy, healthy and have been surfing nearly every day.
The beginning of the week was quite rough on me. I had to finish thinking through and planning out my process for returning to the Van Dieman. I am super excited about getting back and focused on readying myself as much as possible in this short month I have in San Diego. Opportunities keep jumping in front of me and it is so hard to say no to them. Road trips, other surf trips, parties, Baja surf trips, and even some great high-paying jobs have been thrown my way already. I have made it this long in life without falling into commitment and that’s one reason I am on this adventure with Drude.
The first weekend I got home was nice and relaxing but the water was freezing. I felt stiff and awkward every time I went surfing. I’ve readjusted to that now, but my 4/3 wetsuit is two seasons old and the neck seam broke open two days ago. That makes for a nice flush of salt water on every duck dive. My boards are epic right now and surfing is as fun as ever anyways.
I’ve always been involved in my dad’s art. Framing, packing, picking up supplies and shipping are my usual duties, but I have decided to do some sales while I am in town. I started working on Friday. I woke up and left my house at 3 a.m. Then I drove two hours to Palm Springs, unloaded the van full of my dad’s resin paintings and posted up for the two-day show in the warm desert. Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. I broke down the display and drove a couple hours back into San Diego, arriving just as it gets dark. If I had 30 more minutes I could get in a surf, but I guess it will make my Monday morning sessions that much better. This will be my routine for the next four weekends while I am home. I hope I don’t miss too many swells. It is a rewarding experience to see how happy and excited people are about finding the right piece of art for their homes.
I think about Drude, Josie and Trent every day and wonder what I would be doing if I were still with them at this point. Surely, I will be there soon enough.