A Promise To The Universe
I’m having a weekend away from building due to a welcome visit by my daughter Nicole.
Yesterday we spent some time in Stratford Upon Avon and whilst browsing the travel section in a charity bookshop my eyes fell on the spine of a thin book almost hidden amongst the others. I saw the word ‘Moitessier’ and my heart skipped.
As I extracted the book from the shelf it revealed itself as ‘A Sea Vagabond’s World’ written by Bernard Moitessier.
Its tagline ‘boats and sails, distant shores, islands and lagoons’ must surely rank as one of the most enticing I’ve ever read.
‘A Sea Vagabond’s World’ is the last book Moitessier wrote and it is in some senses a technical manual compiled from the knowledge and experience he gained during his lifetime of sailing and living ashore in Polynesia. The word ‘technical’ doesn’t really feel right though because above all else Moitessiers philosophy was one of simplicity. As these quotes show; “I’m absolutely sure that people are going to get fed up with sailing technology, and will want to return to the basics”. and ” There are different philosophies of sailing. Mine is to do everything as simply as possible, so you can set out to sea in the quickest time and for the least expense”
He proposed the book to his publishers fifteen days before he died in 1994 and the book may have been lost had it not been for his friend Véronique Lerebours Pigeonnière who took up the baton and got the book published. I’m sure I’m one of many who are extremely grateful to her. That gratitude must also be extended to William Rodarmor who translated the book into English.
I’m assuming that most of my readers will need no introduction to Bernard but here’s the Wikipedia Link if you do. James Wharram and Bernard Moitessier shared similar sailing philosophies and it’s no surprise that they got on extremely well when they met in the West Indies after James Jutta and Ruth sailed ‘Tangaroa’ across the Atlantic in the 1950’s.
I spent a few hours yesterday soaking up the wisdom contained in the pages of Bernards book. It’s a unique blend of hard earned sailing know how, beautiful quotes and inspirational philosophy. It’s a book I will treasure and re-visit often.
I found a quote that could have been written for ‘Gleda’;
“A boat is freedom, not just a way to reach a goal”
The preface pages of ‘A Sea Vagabond’s World’ contain some words from the Belgian singer-songwriter and poet Jacques Brel who befriended Moitessier in Polynesia. I’d not seen them before but I will keep these beautiful words close by from now on.
“The act of dreaming is important in itself.
I wish you an endless flood of dreams and the intense desire to make some of them come true.
I wish you love for what should be loved and forgetting for what should be forgotten.
I wish you passions.
I wish you silences.
I wish you bird song on awakening and the laughter of children.
I wish you resistance to being swallowed up, to indifference, to the negative virtues of our age.
Above all, I wish you to be yourself.”
I’ll never meet Bernard Moitessier but his writings are a legacy beyond value. I have made a promise to the Universe though, some day soon I will sail ‘Gleda’ to Brittany in France, to the little town of Bono. There I will visit a corner of the cemetery and leave my own tribute to the man who has inspired me to build my own freedom and to be myself.