Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Nina & Pinta Inspire Many Visitors to Muskegon's Harbor, Especially Wilbo.

The Nina and the Pinta sailed to Muskegon from Frankfort, Michigan. On close of tours on Labor Day, September 1, the two ships will disembark from Heritage Landing and make sail for Michigan City, Indiana. Needless to say, I'll gladly pay eight dollars to tour the two replicas of Christopher Columbus's ships. How to be shanghaied for the sail to Indiana has become an obsession. The replicas look fragile when one considers the originals braved an Atlantic crossing in 1492. Lake Michigan has abundant perils, and a good crew and the Coast Guard on the speed dial will Godspeed their journey.

I'll have to slip back to Heritage Landing after night falls and see if I can strike up a conversation with the Quixotic man who had these ships built and set them to sail. Nothing better for a dreamer to meet a dreamer who has made it work, who has literally put the wind in the sails of a dream. Maybe I can give him a hand, and I'm talking more than tying knots and hoisting sails. At least, I can give this dreamer a good hearing and then pass along his vision. I have already told five people that we have the ships until Monday. That's the kind of tool I am, the kid who read schedules in the T.V. Guide, fascinated. Now grown up and working in databases for a living.

The man could use a hand. The one ship is new this year. He has to have blueprints for the Santa Maria, rounding out Columbus's fleet. I had never heard of him and his foundation before this week, so I am certain there's many who could help that are just waiting to learn of the quest. Larry Ellison of Oracle has blown millions on sailboats, and he's hardly one of a kind. There's wind blowing all over the world and too few sails.

Welcome to my front yard, Heritage Landing. Saying that isn't showboating. Let me help you find an inexpensive house. The old homes are waiting for your attentions. Who wouldn't want to live on a lake that connects to the Seven Seas, thanks to the St. Lawrence Seaway, which brings ocean vessels and sea lampreys to this port? I remember living in a modest house in Center Line, Michigan, just off the concrete four lane river called Van Dyke Highway. In time, that city will unearth its creeks and rivers. In the meantime, I'm staying close to this world of water.

The master of the Nina and the Pinta will have to make his way home before the Seaway closes for the winter, home to Wilmington, Delaware. I visited Wilmington on the drive home from Norfolk Virginia, where after work I walked the docks to reach the Elizabeth River Ferry to Portsmouth. I doubt these historical ships can fit in the Erie Canal, from Lake Erie to the Hudson River. There's one more journey that might make a fitting use of Autumn, anticipating the blasts of November in my beard when reaching the ocean. I think I'll let one grow at Thanksgiving. I'm in stubble today.

The dreamer who gave us the Nina & the Pinta inspires me. I've always imagined one great journey before I let the assisted living house my bones. The Tennyson poem about Ulysses setting sail as an old man provides an idea of the mission, the idea of setting out with trusted friends on a journey of exploration, and maybe no return. Those journeys are harder to come by in our more and more connected world.

Will Juntunen

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