It is fitting that this entry is not the first on this blog.
“Where are you from?” “How far have you sailed?” “How far are you going?” These are the questions that I am asked most frequently when I meet new people. Everyone wants to know how far I have come on this voyage and how much farther I have to go. The easy answer is to say that I began in Dunkirk, NY, in the month of October, year 2010. That is where I set out with the JJ Taylor (Contessa) 26 named Cavendysh with the goal of sailing far enough south that I wouldn’t freeze in during the winter months. That is the last time that I saw Dunkirk, which is where I bought the boat in the early months of 2010. It is an arbitrarily chosen beginning, however, because this voyage has been a long time in the making.
I remember when I did a project on the Erie Canal in my sophomore year of high school. That was when I began to become interested in the canals and rivers that cast their web across the heart of America. I was 13 years old when I first had my first pang of desire to travel the thin blue lines linking the Atlantic to the Great Lakes, and the Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico. I could easily say that the beginning of this voyage happened in a school library as I thumbed the pages of an old but barely turned book and looked at the images of engravings of men digging a trench to link the Hudson River with Lake Erie.
Today is the beginning of a new section of this voyage. Today I leave Dog River and point my bow south and east to Florida. I don’t quite expect to make it to Pensacola today, but it would be possible. Cavendysh has salt water beneath her keel and is feeling the effects of tides, but has not yet traveled any significant miles in this environment. Before I took her on this trip every mile of water that she had ever parted had been fresh. Her first two owners had kept her on Lake Erie and sailed her during the summer months on the short waves of that shallow basin. Now she is floating slightly, but noticeably higher. The scum line that the river left on her topsides where the surface of the water carried small amounts of oil and other staining substances is now slightly above the surface of the Dog River brine. I have a new set of challenges to meet in the tidal waters of and around the Gulf of Mexico after having become used to the rhythm of river life.