In October 1997 in Noumea when I was about to cast off the mooring line and sail to New Zealand, I was 53. I had started crewing yachts in the Pacific when I was 50 after a serious operation where I laid half dead in a bed next to that of a woman who ran a yacht charter business in Singapour... I don't believe in coincidences!
Normally in 1997 after two years wandering at sea I was due to 'settle' and expected to be contented. But I experienced a strange feeling every time my eyes met the horizon which is, in Noumea, the dark blue high seas of the South Pacific.
A very strange feeling, this longing to be out there on the ocean. It is hard to explain and hard to be believed. Don't know where it comes from. In my case I had absolutely no family background leading me to this longing for the sea. If it is genetic, then I must have inherited a stray chromosome somewhere along the line.
In my early teenage years at boarding school I craved for adventures. In my mind then it meant trekking the world on land. Any old how. On horse back, on foot, using cars, buses, trucks. There's a huge stretch of continent going east from western Europe. The sea was not on my mind. Being French I had no culture about famous sailors and as a girl it was but a remote dreamy possibility.
So what happened? I think it is a blending of two major books I read when I was 16 or 17, i.e. Jules Verne's 'Les enfants du capitaine Grant' and Bernard Moitessier's 'Vagabond des mers du sud'. What I saw in these books was the amount of total freedom that the sea could give.
Maybe... It is really hard to figure out what triggered this sailing lust I have kept throughout my life since my lonely days at boarding school.
I kept it smouldering in a corner of my brain until the day when I could actually go to sea. My life in Australia enhanced it getting acquainted with guys like Captain Cook and hearing about Tasman and various mad sailing 'yarns'. But other people hear such stories and it doesn't make them long for the sea.
So, I don't know really.