Opening the Sail & the Mind
One would think that the internet, proliferation of cable TV travel shows, and the expansion of live satellite feeds into all corners of the globe would bring the people of the world closer together. More information should break down the barriers that separate us and help us understand each other. Yet that doesn’t seem to be the case. So much information lets us search out what reinforces our beliefs or simply highlights the strange and unusual, diminishing respect rather than building empathy. When it comes to understanding different people and cultures, nothing can substitute for a good long visit.
Gregg Granger discovers just that in his book, Sailing Faith – The Long Way Home, which documents his family’s circumnavigation of the globe by sailboat. In 2002 Granger came up with the crazy idea of sailing around the world with his wife and three kids, ranging in ages from 5 to 15; never mind that he had never sailed anything bigger than a Hobie Cat on a lake in Michigan. Yet that’s what makes Sailing Faith such a wonderful read. His honesty in regard to his own capabilities makes the honesty surrounding their preconceived notions as they make their way beyond western culture all the more believable.
Granger writes about battling the weather, experiencing amazing sights and sounds as they cross major ocean stretches, and discovering all sorts of God’s creatures in their natural habitat. He describes the challenges of dealing with customs and immigration officials in every country, stumbling into cultural faux pas, and the continual process of fiddling and fixing Faith to keep her ocean-worthy for five years and thousands of miles of sailing.
But Sailing Faith turns out to be so much more than a travelogue. Granger keeps his most intimate and important reflections for the people that they meet on the way. He describes the camaraderie of other couples and families also sailing to distant countries and how they instantly bond in the manner that travelers far away from home so easily do. But probably more important, as they leave the familiar territory of the west behind and sail through Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Singapore and on through the Middle East, they begin to form friendships with people who are clearly different in appearance and culture, but clearly the same in all of the things that matter.
Granger’s easy prose and conversational tone make Sailing Faith a nice way to traipse around the world without ever leaving the comfort of your own living room. Yet, rather than just reinforcing a romantic vision of world travel, it accomplishes its goal of presenting a more open and appropriate way of looking at the world, free from political entanglements and pre-conceived notions as to who and what people on the other side of the world really are. The Grangers took the long way home, and it’s clear that Gregg Granger doesn’t want you to have to wait five years before realizing that we really are all in this thing together.