What makes a hero?

Noumea beach
About two months ago, an unexpected email landed in the Totem inbox. It was from Jessica Muffett, founder of Yachtworld, informing us we had been nominated for a 2013 Yachtworld Heroes award for our part in spreading the joy of boating by inspiring others to make the leap and embark on the cruising life.

You know the cliche- it’s an  honor just to be nominated? There is absolutely no cliche here. I look at the inspiring people nominated for 2013 Yachtworld Heroes, and don’t feel worthy. They are my heroes: people like Jeanne Socrates, who continued undaunted to complete her solo circumnavigation goal this year; Matt Rutherford, who used his solo circumnavigation of the Americas in a 27′ boat to show people, particularly those with disabilities, that there are no limits to what can be accomplished in life, and now works to make ocean research more affordable; David Rockefeller Jr, who founded ocean conservation organization Sailors for the Sea.

You see where this nomination might make me feel a little out of my depth.

The beautiful thing, though, is that someone did find us worthy, and the good folks at YachtWorld were inclined to agree. And as much as this kind recognition feels undeserved, it does nail the motivation to continue to write this blog: to inspire others to live their cruising dreams. And wow, it is immensely gratifying!

Tahuata bodysurfing
Bodysurfing in Tahuata, French Polynesia

When I started the blog in 2007 at the behest of a friend, it was a public update for friends and family on our progress to cut the docklines, and then a place record for ourselves the evolution of our journey. In the early cruising period, it became an essential outlet. The blog was where I could share the sharp realizations that a radical lifestyle change brings: how little we really need, how grateful we were for friends and for our time together, the struggles and joys that make up the extreme swings of the cruising life.

making friends
New playmates in Tonga

With the fresh perspective of early cruising days a distant memory, the drivers have shifted. While I still seek to create a kind of family scrapbook of memories, it’s also very much about the connections with perfect strangers. It’s messages via email or Facebook from would-be, gonna-be cruisers, expressing gratitude that we help them stay motivated towards the goal of realizing their dreams. It is feedback like this, shared on a soon-to-be cruising family’s Facebook page earlier today: “These guys are “our motivation” and we keep saying “If they did it… we can do it”.  ….  they continue to be our inspiration.” Reminders that pile up to bring me back to the keyboard, sharing the everyday cruising lifeanswering questions sent our way, and making friends with perfect strangers in the process. It’s not hard at all to remember when those were my questions, too, and the sources for answers and accessible models for people living the dream were harder to find.

Parting is such sweet sorrow
A dinghy full of new friends: Jayapura, Indonesia

This is all a roundabout way to say thank you, Cheryl Tilly, and thank you, Jessica Muffett. We are so very grateful for this recognition! I’m still not sure how we made the cut, but truly, we are honored just to be nominated.

Goodbyes with James & Apii
Taking leave of the much-loved rangers on Suwarrow, Cook Islands

11 Responses to What makes a hero?

  1. LittleCunningPlan.com December 28, 2013 at 3:26 am #

    hmm. My comment disappeared so if you get two, delete one. Just congratulating you on the nomination and saying that you continue to inspire us as we prepare for our own departure.

    • Behan Gifford December 31, 2013 at 6:09 pm #

      Glad you tried again ’cause the first one went *poof*! Thanks Melissa. I’m cheering you along on the way to departure and look forward to the adventures too.

  2. S/V Bella Vita December 29, 2013 at 9:51 am #

    Fantastic! Congratulations Totem. Totally understand where you are coming from, but I agree that your blog is (by far) one of my favorites and I know you inspire countless people in the NW with you travels and writing. Keep up the great work! Stacey

    • Behan Gifford December 31, 2013 at 6:10 pm #

      thank you Stacey! much appreciated!

  3. Jan and David December 29, 2013 at 11:18 am #

    Hi Behan! I disagree. I think you, crew & Totem ARE inspiring many more people than you realize to go cruising and reach far beyond their normal boundaries to experience life. Personally, I think that’s just as important as the others nominated … maybe in a more “normal” way, but no less inspiring! Great for you & Totem! Keep on writing & we’ll keep on vicariously enjoying! Cheers! Jan

    • Behan Gifford December 31, 2013 at 5:59 pm #

      Thank you for the kind swords Jan!

  4. Trim December 29, 2013 at 4:32 pm #

    We think it is a wonderful nomination for the entire Totem family…you certainly inspire us to keep going at this crazy thing called cruising 😉

    • Behan Gifford December 31, 2013 at 5:59 pm #

      Now would you please come back out and play? 🙂

  5. Colleen Mariotti December 29, 2013 at 10:24 pm #

    You inspire us every day. We are 4 months into our European adventure and every day we draw on your wisdom! We look forward to crossing paths, someday, somewhere in person! Colleen and crew at http://www.livology.com

    • Behan Gifford December 31, 2013 at 6:10 pm #

      Colleen, you are the turf to our surf! We will cross paths someday. So glad to have your blog link now. To life!

    • Colleen Mariotti January 1, 2014 at 6:23 pm #

      Cin Cin! Happy New Year to you all!

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