They're Back

You don't have to be special to toss the lines, you just have to toss them. From the "Editor's Log" from our September 2010 issue

they're back 368

Sean Davis (left) and Jamie Meredith stretch the food supply by landing a big one.Courtesy Of Sean Davis

To steal a line from Thin Lizzy, the boys are back in town. Just in time for the Fourth of July, Sean Davis and Jamie Meredith sailed past Graves Light, on the outer reaches of Boston Harbor, crossed Broad Sound, and tied their 1969 C&C Redwing 30-footer to a mooring in Nahant, Massachusetts. After eight months and 6,500 miles, they made good on their promise to have O Canada back in her home port in time for the town's big fireworks display.

Maybe you remember these guys? At the start of the year in this space, I mentioned how a couple of jobless, recent engineering-school grads had ponied up $2,500, bought themselves a little boat in need of some T.L.C., and invested a couple of grand more in gear and a whole pile of food. With November well under way, they pointed the bow south with a plan in progress to find a warm place to spend the winter. New Year's found them in Palm Beach, bound for the Bahamas. They spent two months wandering through the Exumas, which Sean says was the best part of the trip. His favorite spot was Little Farmers Cay, where he, Jamie, and two others hooked a five-foot shark with a small spinning reel and pole, and Sean waded out from the beach to gaff it and pull it ashore.

With spring in the air, they set off for Puerto Rico. That's where the head broke. Ironically, on a boat devoid of electronics save for lights and a GPS, there was an electric macerator for the toilet. With no way to empty things overboard, it was three weeks until they reached St. Thomas and a pumpout station to finally sort things out. "Oh, god, that was awful," Sean says of that particular leg.

O Canada's farthest point south was St. Croix; the easternmost was Virgin Gorda, where Jamie got to talking to a couple of tourists who wanted to get out on the water. A deal was struck: They'd sail with the boys by day, and the boys could dine and drink with them at the hotels in the evening.

Most of the time, though, rice, beans, canned veggies, and ramen noodles were their mainstays. All told, Sean figures the adventure cost him a little less than $7,000. "Most of that was gas and booze," he admits.

Sailing south, the boys were busy with graduate-school applications. Coming north, they found themselves making plans for the fall; Jamie is headed to a master's in the alternative-energy program at M.I.T., and Sean's bound for U.C. San Diego and an aeronautical-engineering doctoral degree.

Near the end of their trip, Sean emailed me: "Some people have asked me along the way how I could do something insane like taking off on a boat. The truth is, you don't have to be a couple of spry young college kids to do a trip like this (well maybe not exactly like this; I'd suggest a boat that doesn't leak so much). The most important thing that I've learned is to just get out there and do it. Whatever it is you want to do, don't just talk about it, do it. There'll always be more to do to get ready, but sometimes you just have to figure it out on the way. We left with no exact plans beyond two weeks, a boat that I'd bought two months before and never sailed more than an hour, almost no money, no plan for the future, and an anchor we found in the garbage! Now we're coming back with a great experience, we both applied to and got into grad school, and we have two good anchors! We're not special, we just got out here and did it."

Mark Pillsbury