Motives and Motivation

I generally work to avoid ascribing motives, good or bad, to other people for a simple reason. I’m rarely certain of my own motives … so how could I know anyone else’s motives?

This question has arisen because I’m about to put to sea again. I’m first mate on another boat delivery, this time from San Francisco to Portland. Well, actually, Alameda Island in San Francisco Bay to Portland. Here’s the noble craft in question, a 38′ catamaran.

nine lives catamaran

Now, up until my last birthday, I was in what I described as my “middle youth”. However, my most recent birthday was my 70th, so at present, I’m into what I call my “late youth” … and why is a man in his late youth putting to sea again?

As usual, it’s a mix of reasons. First and foremost, the ocean truly doesn’t care. It doesn’t care if I can write well. It is indifferent as to my age. My wealth (or more exactly the lack thereof) is of no interest to the ocean. Talk about equal opportunity—pauper or President, sinner or saint, if you put a foot wrong on the ocean you will get wet …

And I like that fact a lot. It cuts through all the bull and gets right down to what is really important, which are not my fantasies or my education or my ideas or how well I can tell a tale, but whether I can handle the harsh oceanic reality.

Next, the ocean is an eternal surprise, with no two days being the same. I’m always happiest when I don’t know which bush hides the rabbit …

Next, keeping a boat afloat and working calls on a host of skills. Since I came aboard this morning, I’ve replaced some drain hoses, fixed a couple of bilge pumps, trouble-shot the shower drain system, tested the anchor windlass relay (still not working), and a number of other tasks. And all of these are what I call “Go-No Go” situations—either I can fix it and get it working, or I can’t. It’s good to take the measure of my skills and test my abilities to the limit.

Finally, however, I suspect that I go to sea for a funny reason—fear. And what am I afraid of? Well, bizarrely, I’m afraid of poetry—in particular, the following poem, which invariably strikes me with dread:

So We'll Go No More a Roving
By George Gordon, Lord Byron

So, we'll go no more a roving 
   So late into the night, 
Though the heart be still as loving, 
   And the moon be still as bright. 

For the sword outwears its sheath, 
   And the soul wears out the breast, 
And the heart must pause to breathe, 
   And love itself have rest. 

Though the night was made for loving, 
   And the day returns too soon, 
Yet we'll go no more a roving 
   By the light of the moon.


I know that someday I’ll be in that place … but good heavens, not this soon. And to prove it … well … I’m going roving by the light of the moon.

We were due to leave today, but it’s a boat trip, they never start on time, so we’re still in Alameda. We’ll be firing up early tomorrow morning. Wish me luck, dear friends, the moon is coming towards full outside the porthole as I write this, further sea stories to follow …

Best to all,


28 thoughts on “Motives and Motivation

  1. Fair winds & a following sea to you. I always appreciate your efforts as a chronicler & scribe of all things climate – and your stories, too.

    Time is like a river
    You cannot touch the same water twice
    Because the flow that has passed
    will never pass again
    Enjoy every moment in life!


  2. Science, politics, horse-sense, philosophy – all of these I have learned to expect from your writings, in WUWT and now in your own blog, Willis. Now I can add sheer poetic beauty as well.

    Truly you are a man for all seasons.




  3. Hope everything goes well this trip Willis, at our age we need to just keep doing what we do! Don’t stop until it becomes impossible.
    Bon Voyage, I look forward to hearing all about it.


  4. May you stay safe Willis…..

    CRASHING waves… SMASHING seas…
    Bringing sailors to their knees.
    As they struggle to save their lives,
    Hoping and praying help arrives.

    The stormy seas as dark as coal,
    Preventing the sailors from reaching their goal.
    Battered and bruised, but still they fight…
    Staring ahead into the dead of night.
    Rocking and rolling as they try to stand…
    Hoping against hope that they soon reach land.

    Bleary-eyed from lack of sleep.
    Down in their cabins, huddled like sheep.
    As they’re rocking and rolling down beneath,
    Weary sailors above resist with gritted teeth.

    Hours later, as the storm starts to dissipate,
    It leaves a calm tranquil sea in its wake.
    The veteran sailors know the battle is over and they have won…
    As they contemplate other storms yet to come…


    Leave a tranquil sea in your wake…..oh, and ignore that veteran sailor bit – change it to “late youth” sailor.


  5. Sea Fever
    by John Masefield

    I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
    And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
    And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
    And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.

    I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
    Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
    And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
    And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

    I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
    To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
    And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
    And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

    Bon voyage Willis!


  6. Sitting in Sarasota under a baking hot sun, thinking about Sitka and wondering where all the magnificent roving has gone these past few years. 7 cancer-related surgeries this year and 60 pounds lighter I too am dreaming of my next sail. Safe travels Willis.



  7. Hope you have an uneventful trip. As a wind-surfer & scuba diver I’ve always enjoyed both sides of the water. Theirs nothing like a good sailing trip.


  8. One of my favorite sea stories is when Admiral Hornblower orders the First Mate –
    “Go below and fetch my charts and Roger the cabin boy”
    To which the First Mate replies –
    “Aye, aye Sir. Which should I do first?”

    Liked by 1 person

  9. The day one ceases to fear and respect the ocean is the day she’ll bite. You’re absolutely right; Old Ocean is a harsh mistress and she doesn’t care if you live or die.

    Bon voyage.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Pingback: There and Back Again | Skating Under The Ice

You are invited to add your comments. Please QUOTE THE EXACT WORDS YOU ARE DISCUSSING so we can all be clear on your subject.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s