A SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE AT SEA
By JFA Yacht & Ship Managing Partner and Consultant Mike Schoettle
As far back as I can remember, sailing has been a main focal point in my life. I’ve sailed thousands of miles, and it’s been my greatest teacher.
Sailing challenges my mind to think critically. It dares my body, demanding physical hard work. It calls my soul to adventure into the unknown, and it encourages my heart with connection- conversation, laughter, and even shared silence. I’ll never forget however the most magical moment of them all that continues to feed my spirit still to this day, 25 years later.
I was with my father traveling up the east coast from Washington to Maine, and we were in the Penobscot Harbor. It was late at night, calm, and quiet. There was a bright moon, lots of stars, and I was on watch doing the driving. I was repositioning my father’s yacht, a C&C 44, perched on the back starboard quarter where there’s a little cutout seat. I was wedged into the safety rails and comfortable. All the sudden I heard an unfamiliar sound. I remember thinking it was unmistakably a noise that I shouldn’t have heard. A shot of adrenaline ran through my body, and I turned to look over my right shoulder in the direction of the noise. Staring right back at me was a gigantic eye. It almost felt like it could have been a hallucination, but it was as real as real can be. A whale was looking at me. It was surreal. I was awestruck. We were doing 4 knots, so the whale was swimming and I had heard his blow hole. Our shared moment didn’t last long, maybe 30 seconds, but it was the most impactful experience. I still have a hard time putting into words what that majestic encounter means to me. It was spiritual. Faith, trust, grace. This knowing that they watch us like we watch them. It’s all connected.