(Excerpt from a
speech by Yves Gélinas
given April 17 1985, at a meeting of school directors)
You have asked me to
talk about the values I have discovered during this 282-day single-handed
voyage. I spent some time asking myself what I could tell you : I did not
have any visions…
I had a lot of time
to meditate – the phone did not ring often – but I must say I haven’t had
any great revelations, I did not experience nirvana or samadhi.
Yet I have known many
moments of total contentment : ends of days when the sun dove into the sea
splashing half the sky with warm light..
The trade wind
caressing naked skin (it is almost as good as if it came
from a loved one)…
The simple pleasure of
watching the bow of my boat slice through the surface of the sea, pushed,
but also guided by an invisible force : the magic of the wind…
Or spending hours
watching an albatross. These birds use the wind thousands of times better
than our sailboats : you never see their wings flap; only the tip moves,
like a rudder. They glide for days and days. When it is calm, they land on
the surface and wait for the wind…
I could go on evoking
moments when for nothing in the world I would have given my place, but it
would be beside the subject: those moments, even if they have considerable
value, are not discoveries. I have to look elsewhere.
On the intellectual
level ? In nine months of solitude, I could have had the time to construct a
nice theory that I could now serve you from my recent Honorary Doctorate.
But search as I might,
I found no syllogism, no demonstration. I can only prove that the Earth is
round, but I am afraid I am not the first.
Yet I can give this
advice : if you want to make a beautiful voyage, do not forget your Magick-Bird.
I took one with me around the world : it worked beyond my expectations.
the cabin of Jean-du-Sud, suspended by a thread from the handrail, is
a little bird woven from a palm of magick coconut. More precisely, a Magick-Bird,
Special Model for Bluewater Sailing. After seven years of common life and
one circumnavigation, I had so many occasions of marveling about its
exploits that I would part with it for nothing in the world.
Since you are all nice
people, I will reveal how it works and attains its full Magick Power.
There are two
essential conditions to the good performance of a Magick-Bird : first you do
your best, from the highest level of your consciousness; second you
surrender to this greater force.
Beware : if you worry
about the result of your action, you are no longer surrendering, you are no
longer at the highest level of your consciousness , you are no longer here
and now and you lose all contact with the Magick Power.
The trap is cleverly
set and I fell blindly into it. When I think about it, I have goose bumps.
I almost couldn’t set sail. I’ll tell you how it happened:
If I made the attempt
to make my mind quiet and make a judgment from the highest level of my
consciousness, I still had this imperious desire to take off on the sea, for
a long period. So every morning, I would ask myself this question: what can
I do to-day most effective to make this happen? And I would try my best to
do it, with detachment and abandon.
After two years of
preparation in Plouër,
I had done all I could do
without funds. So I flew back to Montreal and worked at raising some money.
I spent six months at this and did not have the impression of having made
any progress. As time flew, I became more nervous and impatient: In order
to take advantage of the most favorable seasons, I had planned to leave
three months later and still had a great deal of work to do in France on
I was so tense that I got a stiff neck.
This made me think. I
realized that I was no longer detached: I wanted to leave. I saw
that I had to change my attitude and come back to this state of surrender.
morning, I found a solution to my problem, as if by Magick.
And the Magick-Bird
got his message across even before I left: “Do your share as best you
can, the rest is not your problem.”
In order to avoid
worrying about what I could expect in the Roaring Forties or at Cape Horn, I
took for granted that the Magick-Bird was coherent: if He made me leave, it
was not to get me lost later on.
Obviously, I had to
trust my boat. I knew that I could not rely on its size: Jean-du-Sud
would be the smallest boat to attempt this route. I could rely only on its
I realized right away
that if I consciously neglected the smallest detail, I could never live in
the here and now. I had to be sure of the strength of the mast, of
the rigging, the portholes, sure I had neglected nothing, however small the
detail. Otherwise it would be assured anguish: I would keep telling myself:
“I should have…”
But aiming for
impeccability is like traveling under sail: you move towards a destination,
but you are never sure you will get there. Jean-du-Sud was capsized
by a sea and came back up without its mast. I had underestimated the load
imposed on the bolts holding the lower shroud chainplates and they snapped.
It was entirely my fault, but I was sincere and that time, the Magick-Bird
did not hold it against me.
understanding of a concept and its incarnation in daily life, the going is
sometimes rough and often upwind.
I undertook this
voyage in order to attain a greater measure of inner peace. I thought that
I would arrive at it mostly through meditation and reading. I had taken
along an important documentation on spirituality. What I learned most
important is that knowledge has no value if it does not go beyond the mental
level and is not accompanied by an effort to transform daily life. After
reading a few books, I did not pursue my study: I had seen that the
essential is not about learning, but rather about becoming; and I already
knew enough to keep me busy through a few circumnavigations.
So I put my serious
books away and I made an effort to sail my boat as best I could, with trust
* * *
I also experienced a new dimension of
Discussing love during a single-handed
circumnavigation may seem paradoxical, I admit. And I do not mean a
platonic and disembodied sentiment. I mean this very concrete rush of warmth
one feels inside the heart and that one may have discovered while giving a
girl her first kiss of love…
This rush of warmth that is experienced
only too rarely: when pressing yourself against the woman of your life, or
holding the hand of your child: you burst with energy, you could
This flame of love that lifts the world
can be felt thousands of miles from any human being: all you
to do is
mind quiet, concentrate in the region of the heart and you will
feel it ignite, almost imperceptible.
By making the effort of keeping it alive
with perseverance, I dare say with love, it grows more concrete and
eventually warms up your whole life.
Between love and reason, those two forces
that made us evolve, we have preferred reason. We use reason to define
ourselves: Homo Sapiens Sapiens. Our reason led us to nuclear power
and the planet owes its survival to the Balance of Power and Mutual Assured
Deterrence! If this balance of power is ever broken, it will be an other
effect of reason.
What could Homo Sapiens Amans
achieve? A being who would no longer define himself by reason, but by
love? A being who would listen to reason, of course, but would first listen
to his heart?
* * *
As I conclude this
talk on the values I discovered during this long voyage, I notice that I
talked about three things.
The need to
surrender to a greater force and maintain an impeccable attitude (those are
the two conditions essential to the operation of the Magick-Bird). In other
terms, Faith and Hope
And finally, Love.
I have heard this before.