This last year, my family and I completed a circumnavigation of the earth in our 42-foot sailboat. It was not an extended holiday. We had to sail long, hard hours on some of the world’s most unforgiving and demanding ocean passages. We got wet. Sometimes we slept on the cabin in foul weather gear. Sometimes we were so anxious we couldn’t contemplate sleep. Many nights we were apprehensive—aware that no call for help would save us or our two young sons.
A circumnavigation was not a foregone conclusion. In the Coral Sea, Jim and I debated about heading for Brisbane and putting Ceol Mor on a container ship back to the States. The Indian Ocean was weighing heavily on our minds—not just the threat of pirates, but also the long passages without much support for a small boat like ours. Jim suggested we might have more fun cruising Australia’s Barrier Reef and flying home. In the end, we decided “fun” wasn’t necessarily the goal. Things that matter might turn out fun, but hard work is its own reward.
Why did we leave an idyllic life in Washington for—admittedly—one of the hardest things we’ve ever done? We wanted to show our sons they could succeed at their goals—even if they were big goals. We wanted them to learn about a world outside of their comfortable universe: less focus on materialism, real responsibility, maybe even a touch of fear, and the occasional whale or volcano rising out of the ocean. Of course it was tough. It was, at times, brutal. But, perhaps, sunrises and sunsets don’t mean as much when they are safely caught?
– Heather Wilson