Author: Chris Uyeda
Location: Underway to Brazil in the Atlantic Ocean
Although Ive never been to a wine tasting event, I hear the standard is to drink water in between samples. As I understand it, the purpose of the water is to prevent the flavor of one wine from compromising another. For the wine taster, water separates two very different experiences, and helps them fully appreciate and explore the unique qualities of each. Its not that different for sailors. Sailing, in addition to being an end in itself, is a means by which to separate and enrich our travels on shore. Take, for example, our current passage. In a couple of days were going to arrive at Fernando de Noronha, a series of tropical vacation islands off the coast of equatorial Brazil. The islands are a UNESCO World Heritage site. Theyre known for having some of the best beaches and diving in the country and officials need to restrict the numbers of visitors allowed to protect its beauty. By contrast, 10 days ago we left St. Helena, an isolated British territory that barely gets 1,000 visitors a year. Its a beautiful but improbable place. Temperate, rugged, and located smack dab in the middle of the southern Atlantic, St. Helena was only inhabited because of its strategic value during a bygone era of maritime trade. Now had we immediately taken a three hour flight between these two places, it would be like mixing two glasses of wine together and saying bottoms up. The memory of one would distract from the experience of another. But weve just spent 10 days at sea, where the unifying theme has been an absence of distractions. The passage has given us time to clear our traveling palates, so to speak, and made us all the more receptive to our upcoming landfall. By the time we arrive in a couple of days our radar will be on. The passage will have heightened our sense of excitement, appreciation, and attentiveness and as a result the experience on shore will be all the richer. Which is why I like sailing so much it is not simply a way to get from point A to point B, it is a process that enhances our journey in ways that conventional travel misses. So the next time you go wine tasting just take a moment to realize that its the water, just as much as the wine, which makes the experience.