Once upon a time there was a sailor who had no fingers, but he did have the
audacity to sail across the Atlantic Ocean single-handed. It was a
fingers-optional voyage. When he arrived at the other side, people
didn't believe he did it. In fact, they said it couldn't be done.
To sail a boat with two arms and legs, and ten fingers and toes is hard
enough in the best of times. But to them, sailing across an ocean with
no fingers was more than improbable. It was impossible. After
all, how could he pull on the halyards to raise the sails, and how could he
pull on the sheets to trim the sails. The naysayers and disbelievers
were wrong once again, because sailing across oceans isn't about fingers.
It's about how you run your mind. Where there's a will, there's a way,
and a fingers optional voyage on the seven seas simply means you have to be
a little more clever in the way you run your yacht. More often than
not, the improbable and impossible can't stand up in the face of a man who
wants to make his dreams come true.
People are doing the improbable and seemingly impossible all the time, and
the naysayers and disbelievers haven't gone away either. While we were
sailing transatlantic in December 2005, there were competitors in rowboats
making the same voyage under paddle power. You know, row, row, row
your boat, gently across the Gulf Stream, merrily, merrily, merrily,
merrily, life is but a dream. The statement, "Where there is a will,
there is a way," isn't just positive thinking drivel. It's the truth for
thousands of people who make their dreams come true. A dedicated rower
putting his all into it can beat sailors across a windless sea. The
improbable and the impossible strike again and again.
Don't forget about Tristan Jones, the man who sailed without legs. He
didn't start out that way. When he was in his fifties, he had blocked
blood vessels in one of his legs that resulted in an above the knee
amputation. Tristan was a life-long sailor in monohull sailboats, and
he found it difficult to sail on the seven seas with only one leg because
balance was a problem when the sailboat heeled over. The solution to
this dilemma was obvious. Trade in his tipsy monohull sailboat for a
stable sailing platform - a trimaran. That's exactly what he did.
He purchased an old trimaran in California and proceeded to sail it around
the world to Thailand. He named his trimaran Outward Leg.
Most people would give up sailing if they were sixty years old and had only
one leg, but not Tristan Jones. He sailed the waters of Thailand for
several years before disaster struck again. He had a
blood clot in his other leg, and it had to be amputated above the knee as
well. Now he was a sailor who didn't have a leg to stand on.
Undaunted, he sold his trimaran and purchased a flush deck catamaran.
He scooted around the deck of his yacht using a skateboard. Getting on
and off his floating home was a challenge. He rigged a small crane
using a whisker pole, and friends used this contraption to transport him on
and off the boat in a cage of his own design. He continued to sail the
waters of Thailand until he died several years later. Good on you
Tristan. You showed us that legs are optional if you really want to
sail the seven seas.
When we started our transatlantic voyage, we met a yacht
crewed by British ex-servicemen, and every member of the crew had lost a
limb. They had one normal leg, and one prosthesis to use for walking
around on deck. They were sailing in the British Limbless Ex-service
Men's Association Atlantic Challenge 2005. Their web site is www/blesma.org.
These former soldiers moved confidently on the deck of their large yacht as
they sailed out of Palmas Harbor in the Canary Islands. They would
remain at sea for two to three weeks to complete the transatlantic
Fingers optional and legs optional sailing are good examples
of what people can do when they follow their dreams. It's nice to have
fingers and legs, especially when you are sailing on a yacht around the
world. But, never forget it's not fingers and legs that make your
dreams come true. It's the way you run your mind. When you
follow your dreams and ignore the skeptics, the improbable and seemingly
impossible frequently do happen. So there you have it. You must
live as if your dreams are possible and work each day to make them happen.
Someday we may even see some of you out here sailing on the ocean of your