August 16, 2011
In 1967, Francis Chichester did what nobody else had done.
He did it at age 65.
It took him 226 days to do it; he sailed 29,600 actual miles; he did it on a modest sailboat called the Gypsy Moth IV.
Even built the boat he did it on.
At the end of the voyage, with millions watching on television, a reporter asked him, "Why do you do it?"
He paused; he wasn't an especially eloquent man.
His answer was simple, not especially quotable, but wonderful nonetheless:
"Because it intensifies life."
He did something that not one of history's famous and "daring" adventurers could do.
He did it alone.
For that he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for becoming the first person to sail single-handed around the world and the fastest circumnavigator by the clipper ship route between Europe and the Far East, Australia and New Zealand.
This was no piece of cake.
Many ships and sailors were lost in impossible weather along the route, particularly at Cape Horn, which the clippers had to round on their return to Europe.
But somehow, Chichester persevered.
When asked about his scariest day, he said, "When his gin had run out."
I recently read with pleasure there are plans to preserve Gipsy Moth IV, as a working national maritime monument.
Most of us will not do (I'm out of the picture) anything near what Chichester did, but we all have our ways to "intensify" things.
Sedentary activities are perfectly fine.
Culinary experiences work as well.