Chum: a close friend…or chopped fish, fish fluids, and other material thrown overboard as angling bait. Team Chum started as the first and possibly ended feeling like the second, but we think they are a catch.
Who determines the age at which someone is too young or too old. What age is appropriate to start dating or drinking or watching Star Wars? What are the specific life experiences which require a limit? The fact is, life starts at that first breath and the adventure of parenthood is not to be taken lightly, but it is to be taken one day at a time. Team Chum consisted of a father/daughter team, of which the daughter, Carrie, was the youngest applicant to be accepted into R2AK, 15 at application and 16 at the time of the race. Laura Dekker was 14 when she set out to become the youngest person to sail solo around the world, and the world threatened to take her away from her father for allowing it. Who is to say who was right?
The father in Team Chum’s scenario is James, whose parents tossed him on a boat at age three and sailed him to Hawaii. By five, he had done the Panama Canal, and he was single-handing a sloop before ever riding a bike. Carrie caught the family passion for wind and water and took to the tiller. The two set out on a mission of over a year to fix up a free boat and make way to Alaska with the rest of us, but in the tumult which was the proving ground something shifted for James who began to feel responsibility for endangering his beloved child. He called for help and brought them both ashore, abandoning the rest of the race. He wrote a heartbreaking letter to their fans after opting out. They have since deleted their profile from Facebook and moved on with their lives, but if we could return their missive, this is what we would say.
When you keep on making a right turn, sometimes you end up back at the start. You did what you thought was right. That goes for every second of it, and we can only hope that this is how we all live life. We face it as it comes, we ride the waves, and when it all seems too much we have the strength and courage to ask for help. Do not live in regret, but try to accept that everything was right. It was right for you to sign up. It was right that you spent over a year together with a goal in mind. It was right that you set off holding the tiller and the sheet, with the wind in one hand and the water in the other. And it was right that you put your love for each other before the steak knives.
Did you still spend a year and more bonding over the preparation? Did you show up? Did you take it on and live and love in a shared experience? Absolutely. This is the best we can hope for anyone, that we show up in life. That our love for each other overrules any plan we think we should follow, and that we can change course when our heart demands it. You are an inspiration Team Chum, and we would be honored to call you even a distant friend.