ABOARD AKHLUT EPISODE 9: FULL CIRCLE
The funny thing about dreams is that sometimes you don’t know they exist until you’re living them.
Three years ago, nearly to the date, I left a familiar life that I loved to explore something completely new and unknown. Since untying the lines in Ensenada, Mexico, in November of 2018, we have made over eight thousand miles at sea.
We spent the first five months sailing the western coast of Mexico before setting out on a three-thousand-mile voyage halfway across the blue waters of the open Pacific to Hawaii. It would be a trip that faced us with pockets of unsettled weather, heavy winds, and—following a failure on recently and professionally replaced rigging—substantial boat repairs upon arrival. Although almost as new to sailing as I was when we started, Conlee re-rigged the entire boat before single-handing Akhlut back to the west coast of British Columbia when I returned to work later that year.
Since then, we have explored the more popular cruising areas of the Georgia Strait and set out in the dead of winter, only to find ourselves utterly alone cruising deep fjords guarded by rugged glacial peaks on BC’s central and northern coasts. Winter cruising offered us the edification and excitement that came from dodging hurricane-force wind warnings and testing our boat, gear, and comfort zones more than ever before.
Sailing and living aboard full-time have offered us a way to live and travel more sustainably. It has lent insight into the environmental issues humanity faces, constantly piqued our interests in history, ecology, and cultural geography, and challenged us to choose daily between excess and necessity. This lifestyle continues to allow us non-invasive access into some of the more remote areas that are left and has inspired me to start photographing, filming, and writing about our experiences. It has ignited within me a passion for documentary-style filmmaking and storytelling that I’m not sure I would have been aware of, nor considered, had it not been for embarking on this journey in the first place.
It is a way of life that continuously pushes me to reach beyond my boundaries as it teaches me more about myself, my resilience, my deep-seated and eternal appetite for forward momentum, and the role I play in humanity as a whole.
As I write this episode, we are 120 miles from the Mexican border, a distance that, when completed, will have brought us full circle back to the place where this adventure began.
Through three years and thousands of miles, among days of sunshine and (what seems like) many more of tempestuous weather, either on calm or capricious seas, from moments of anxiety to excitement, from learning experiences to an everlasting labour of love, through a dismasting, a worldwide pandemic, and the launch of a YouTube channel, some days I still wonder to myself how I got here. How I found myself living a life that I never would have known would be a dream come true until I was deep ‘in it.’
Thanks to everyone who has followed our journey and taken the time to read these (nearly) monthly episodes of Aboard Akhlut. If you are a fellow sailor or water lover, I hope to meet you out here one day. If you are thinking or dreaming of one-day sailing, all I can say is, DO IT—the sooner, the better! And even if sailing or being on the water isn’t your thing, I hope you take a chance on doing something a little differently, as sometimes it is those opportunities life presents us with that may completely change the way you look at the world around you.
Also, a huge thank you to Mustang Survival for keeping us well equipped and safe. Without our trusty gear, the hard days would have been much harder, and I don’t think we would have had such an enjoyable winter sailing the BC Coast. Being dry and comfortable is one of the most crucial aspects of time spent on the water. We still, to this day, live in our foulies (a lot of the time) and have a bit of a running joke that maybe one day we’ll get to put them away for a season. As far as versatility goes, though, I’m sure there will always be those days we need to have them handy. As for our trusty PFD’s, we are eternally grateful to have the peace of mind that comes with being backed by insightfully designed and innovatively developed safety equipment.
Words & photos - Celeste Brooke-Landon