Sunday, March 4, 2018

New York: CCA Blue Water Acceptance speech

        I have been writing for sixty years.  Sailing for fifty years.  And published for more than forty. 
        Of all my words, I am confident ten will outlive me.  I hope more will,  but of:  A sailor is an artist whose medium is the wind, I am certain.  They have been used on t-shirts, greeting cards, photographs, paintings, countless websites that collect quotes of sailing and the sea, even an ad for women’s shoes.  I don’t understand that one.
        Perhaps in coming years every now and then someone will happen across those words and wonder who Webb Chiles was and find more of my words.
        I am pleased to be here this evening.  I am pleased, and a little surprised, to be anywhere this evening.  Age 76 and the year 2018 are numbers from science fiction.  Though frayed by time, I believe that I am still good, that I am not yet used up, that I can still do more.
        That I have grown old is unexpected.  My father and both my grandfathers died before age forty.  Yet I who took the greatest risks have now more than doubled their lives.   That might have been due to chance, though I do not consider myself lucky.  But it also might have been because I planned and I prepared to the extent of my resources.  I never did anything at the last minute.  And though I took risks, I never took an uncalculated risk. 
        Of my circumnavigations I believe that my first, most of my second, and my current sixth, were cutting edge.
        In each I sought a new experience.  I did not want to be like an old rock star forever singing the songs of his youth.  I wanted to sing a new song, and I think that GANNET and I have.
        I have owned three great boats.  Two of them small:  CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE, an undecked 18’ Drascombe Lugger yawl;  GANNET, an ultralight Moore 24; and RESURGAM, a Sparkman and Stevens designed She 36.
        I have great affection for small boats, who if well designed and built can do so much more than most believe possible.
        Eternity is long.  Our lives as brief as a butterfly’s cough.  I believe that they are redeemed by moments of joy.  I have known countless such moments sailing small boats across oceans.   
        I thank you for this medal and I wish you sailing joy.