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Be Firsters Get Final Sessions and a Few Lessons at Cape Verde
Posted on June 9, 2011

Be First recipients Gavin McClurg and Jody MacDonald are attempting to be the first to kiteboard, surf, stand up paddleboard, and paraglide some of the most remote places on earth, which they will access by sail on their 60-foot catamaran DiscoveryAre you in pursuit of your own “first?” Our Be First program is an opportunity to get sponsored when you go for your own summit, whatever that may be. To learn more, visit Be First.

By Gavin McClurg; photos by Jody MacDonald

I’ve been trying to write our final log of the Cape Verde for over a month now. It’s not that I can’t remember what happened, and it’s not that I don’t have a story to tell. I experienced some of the most magical days of my life in those dry islands off the west coast of Africa, and I’d like to describe how that feels. If I described our time in the Cape Verde like a football game play-by-play it would be as predictable as the news headlines. I’ll have lost you in the first paragraph. Maybe this is what writer’s block is? But I don’t think so.

I think it’s because the story is complicated, and I’m not sure I have the word combinations to piece it all together. The story has the usual suspects: wind, waves, people, and places. The story has all the familiar problems: breakdowns, stress, sleepless nights, and long days. But I don’t want to tell that story because it has been told before.

So here I am, wrestling again with time. Each day I think, today I’ll be able to finish the log. And then I stare at a blank screen. OK, tomorrow I’ll be able to finish. Here’s just one reason this story is complicated: I want to say that Cape Verde is one of the most magical places I’ve ever been, but I can’t say that because then I’d have to back it up. If waves, wind, friendly faces, beautiful music, and sizzling sunsets are your travel candy, then Cape Verde is Halloween. But how we saw Cape Verde and how most people would see Cape Verde aren’t the same. We spent a week at an uninhabited island that was every bit as gorgeous as any island I’ve ever visited. But without a boat you can’t get to that island, so if you come to Cape Verde, you’re almost definitely not going to go there.

Another example: We spent over two months anchored off Sal, which on first inspection is just plain ugly — flat, windswept and brown. But living off her coasts on a beautiful boat with a plethora of toys, eating crazy food, catching more waves than you’ve ever dreamed of and, well, Sal starts to look pretty incredible. Ever watch a 3D movie without those cool glasses? Not quite what the director had in mind. I feel like sometimes on this boat we’ve got the special glasses.

We stayed for over four months and either surfed or kited every day. The only days we didn’t were because we were either too lazy, or had to prep the boat for another trip. Maybe then it was the routine that has so bewitched me? This expedition is definitely never predictable, but our stay in Cape Verde was probably as close as we can get, and maybe that comfort — knowing that this or that surfbreak would be working, knowing the wind would arrive, knowing I could keep our guests in smiles. I don’t think I ever once felt in want of anything (well, besides some spare parts of course!). And that’s a beautiful place to be: free of any desire except to live right now, in this moment.

In that slippery way that time operates, looking back at our four months in Cape Verde seemed to last forever, and it seemed to happen in an instant. Our departure loomed and swept by like my 39th birthday, an event I still can’t believe took place and a moment in time I’ll never have back. In fact, on the day we sailed from Cape Verde, as the cliffs of Santo Antao shrank in the distance, it wasn’t just sadness that I felt but a bit of anger. Even though our horizon held all kinds of new discoveries and wonders, everything behind us will never happen again. How can life go by so fast? How can it keep accelerating like this? Did I seize every day, every minute? Did I learn from my mistakes? Did I appreciate this wonderful world and treat her with the respect and reverence that she deserves? Did I treat those around me, all those who have made this wild journey possible, with that same care? I wish I could say I did, but the truth is, of course, a little more complicated.

So this time I’m going to take the easy way out and give up. Everyone who knows me knows I’m not a quitter, but the words this time just will not come. Luckily I have a secret weapon who very often covers my many shortcomings Jody’s photography. Enjoy.

“Half our time is spent trying to find something to do with the time we have rushed through life trying to save.” — Will Rogers

Author: - Thursday, June 9th, 2011

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