Explosion Ends Circumnavigation
My dream of sailing around the world first sprouted when I helped my dad restore a small cruising sailboat in my early twenties. He was killed in a tragic accident shortly after, but the dream that he planted in me has remained alive.
My name is Timothy, and that was more than twenty years ago.
The other day, my dream almost died with me when the 33 foot sailboat I have spent the past 7 months restoring exploded in a propane accident.
I was working my way down the east coast to Florida where my son lives. He is now in his early twenties and was going to help me finish the restoration, then we were to set sail together.
Everything I own was on my boat. Much of it destroyed by the explosion and fire that followed. Although I obtained second and third degree burns and other injuries from being violently thrown around, I am very fortunate that my injuries are minor compaired with the intesity of the damage to the boat. I know how lucky I am to be alive!
After escaping the cabin and turning off the propane tank, I held my breath and ran back inside for my fire extinguisher. I was able to put out the fires and save the boat from being completely destroyed.
All the wonderful people anchored near me in the harbor came to my assistance in their dinghys within minutes of the explosion, getting me to shore where the ambulance rushed me to the emergency room.
These amazing neighbors, who had only met me days before, have banded together like a family taking care of me aboard each of their boats in turn.
The name of my boat is Islita (little island). She was custom built by a couple 40 years ago so that they could fulfill their own dream of sailing around the world. They did, and wrote a book about their adventures! This couple has sinse become my good friends from afar while I went through the concentrated process of bringing their baby back to life so that I too could realize the same dream.
Athough Islita is in pretty bad shape, she is not completely destroyed. The thought of repairing her is almost too overwhelming after seeing the extent of the damage. I will need to recover from my injuries and recover financially before I can even think about this.
Today, the original builder called me and offered to fly out to help me stabalize Islita and to help me evaluate and plan her repairs. His love of Islita and his offer of kindness to me had rejuvinated my confidence, and I know that I must try to continue on with her until she has made it again around the world.
I have been pulling the things off of Islita with my little dinghy and putting it all in a storage unit. Cleaning up all the fire extinguisher powder has been a real chore. Its everywhere, and murder on the lungs!
I've also ferried most of the debris ashore for disposal, and begun removing damaged pieces.
The entire cabin top will need to be removed as well as all the decks. I'm basically going to have to rebuild the entire top half of the boat. Its a bit overwhelming, but so many things are falling into place.
A man from Mobjack Bay Va, where I started the restoration of Islita last year, has offered to give me a boat to live on while I rebuild Islita. I'm planning to head up there this weekend and sail the trip south all over again. This is such a Godsend for me. Just having a place to live is a giant step forward.
I'd like to share with you some of my darker side. The side that carries the self-doubt alone, and doesn't want people to know that I struggle.
I dropped from social media about eight months ago when I first bought Islita. I really wanted to go into solitude and do my thing, so I did. A big part of that had to do with the fact that I was about to bite off something that I wasn't quite sure I'd be able to accomplish. I was afraid that if I advertised what I was doing or what I hoped to do, then if I failed, everyone would be watching. My dream to rebuild a boat and sail around the world is a bit of a long shot, I know, but it is close to the center of my heart, and that spot is delicate like the life of a newborn.
I threw everything I had into building that dream; all my money, time, energy, and focus. I exhausted my body working seven days a week for the better part of a year, and I strained my relationships with family and friends by retreating into my own little world.
After Islita exploded on the launch pad, I thought for sure that my dream had been stillborn. There I was cradling my dead baby in a strange place with no more resources, and the fraying ties to the people I love making me afraid and undeserving to lean into them. Enter the Devil, “Its all your fault. You tried. You failed. You left no retreat. You're not good enough."
My struggles with self-doubt have less to do with what I believe I'm capable of, and more to do with how I view myself as a person. There are plenty of people out there struggling with things like putting food on the table, clothing their kids, and just staying alive. I'm out here struggling with fulfilling my dream. I think about this a lot, and it stirs up a type of guilt that tells me I'm a selfish, uncaring person.
It's a strange notion to believe that the dreams welling up from within us must be somehow justified or they lose their right to live. It's a strange notion, but one that prevails for most of us.
Some dreams are bucket list territory, some dreams are embedded in that part of our being that calls itself purpose or calling. Whether we actually have a purpose or calling is beside the point. The fact that there is a place in us that serves the function of creating crystal clear direction and intense motivation in us is paramount. If you tap into it, you will not be able to tell the difference between purpose and life.
What is the purpose of a tree? It would seem that its purpose is to grow into the best version of itself and reproduce a variation that can become even better. All the things that the tree does aims in that direction, but the tree is not intentionally performing these tasks in order to fulfill its obligation to its “purpose”. Its doing what is written in it to do. That doesn't mean it will succeed. It might have sprouted in a poor environment or in the crack of a parking lot, and it will never achieve fulfillment of its “calling”. If you've made it this far reading, please listen carefully. The tree struggling in the parking lot will give it its all trying to become what is written in it to be. The tree in the forest will do the same. Neither are driven by the probability or guarantee of their success. Shall the tree in the parking lot say, “I'm going to quit trying because I don't have nice fertile soil and all the other things that the tree in the forest has. Its not fair. I'll never make it”
Shall the tree in the forest say, “I shouldn't grow to the fullness of my potential because the tree in the parking lot isn't able to, and that's not fair. I feel bad about that. I didn't do anything special to deserve this.”
I've ceased trying to justify my dreams because they remain in me regardless of which environment I'm in. I leave the guilt unanswered, and all the fears of being a bad person or a failure lay scattered around me rotting into the soil.
Here's another one from last summer while I was rebuilding Islita.
"Dreams like everything else that has a beginning, will end. They will be born, and they will die.
But you know what? I'm going to escort my dream to its grave exhausted, worn out, and absolutely spent."
That's some good shit!
Russell and Kiki love your updates as we have been cheering you on from the beginning. We love your stories, we love your adventure, and we love you! One of the greatest things in Kiki's life is seeing you sailing into your adventure aboard our beloved Islita. We are still here for you every step of the way! Kiki and Russell