I was looking at a bookshelf where the Christmas tree had been when I noticed a stash of old National Geographic Magazines, kept separate from the shelves and shelves of a yellow lifetime subscription of my husband's, plus the years his father collected before that. Deliberately picking the January 1921 issue, just to see how articles and advertisements had changed in 91 years, my curiosity was drawn to an article called The Dream Ship by Robert Stock.
Maybe my interest in the story is biased, having seen the Gulf Stream's biology and beauty during the daylight with the odd feeling of no land in sight, then the night when the fog hugs the sea so close the stars might as well be non-existent, the maps and radar aren't working and the captain has no idea where he is. That being said, I chose to write about an unlikely author because of the way he told his story. He later went on to write the account in a book. What I especially liked was his sense of wonder and humor, his occasional wisdom, all woven into a voyage that began with a dream.
There are times when you can quote one line, or one speech, but this is not one of them. The man, despite his protests of being the worst mathematician in the world and not a scientist, learned enough about navigation in three weeks to take on a voyage of dreams and reality. The following is the beginning of his adventure:
We all have our dreams. Without them we should be clods. It is in our dreams that we accomplish the impossible: the rich man dumps his load of responsibility and lives in a log shack on a mountain top, the poor man becomes rich, the stay-at-home travels, the wanderer finds an abiding place.
The difficulty is to turn one's dreams into realities, and as I happen to be enjoying that rare privilege at the present moment, it is too good to keep.
For more years than I like to recall, my dream has been to cruise through the South Sea Islands in my own ship. I can't help it; that has been my dream; and if you had ever been to the South Sea Islands, and love the sea, it would be yours also. They are the sole remaining spots on this earth that are not infested with big-game-shooting expeditions, globe-trotters, or profiteers; where the inhabitants know how to live, and where the unfortunate from distant and turbulent lands can still find interest, enjoyment, and peace.
A DREAM WITH A COMIC-OPERA PLOT
My dream was as impracticable as most. There was a war to be attended to and lived through, if Providence so willed. There was a ship to be bought, fitted out, and provisioned on a bank balance that would fill the modern cat's-meat man with contempt. There were the little matters of cramming into a chronically unmathematical head sufficient knowledge of navigation to steer such a ship across the world when she was bought, and of finding a crew that would work her without hope of monetary reward.
The thing looked and sounded sufficiently like comic opera to deter me from mentioning it to any but a select few, and they laughed. Yet such is the driving power of a dream, if its fulfillment is really desired, that I write this on the deck of my dream ship, anchored off the Isthmus of Panama, five thousand miles on the way to my goal.