FOREWORD: In 1984 Amyr Klink was the first man to successfully row across the Atlantic. With his arms. Alone. His book 100 Days between Sea & Sky chronicles the pre-departure preparations and sea voyage from Namibia (Africa) to Brazil (South America) in such exciting and fun detail that the reader forgets that it’s actually quite dangerous to be thousands of miles from the nearest landmass. Besides the incredible mental and physical strength involved in this project, it was also an amazing feat of literature considering that one character and water were the bulk of the story.
In Klink’s original Portuguese and my English translation I’ve posted passages below that key on the very human tendency to alternate between hope and loneliness, with moments flashing in brilliant extremes depending on the mindset. I appreciated Klink’s honest writing style and felt a bond with his words. He shows, in the most exaggerated way, that life is all about perspective. Though biking and rowing use two different muscles groups, by the end of the book I was convinced they activate the same parts of the brain and felt happily justified in my adventure knowing that my thoughts are in line with those of such an admirable man as Klink.
Aos poucos percebi que entrava em equilibrio com o mundo a minha volta. Um cenario eterno e dinamico a um so tempo, exatamente o mesmo que viram os navegadores do passado. Talvez com igual intensidade de emocao, medo ou alegria. E a nocao de tempo tao exata a ponto de conhecer os decimos de segundo de cada hora, ou tao vaga no espaco que seculos nada significariam em transformacoes. Nao me encontrava em uma situacao indefinida ou permanente, e talvez por isso me sentisse bem. Tinha um objectivo na mente, e um so: chegar ao Brasil. E, ainda que fosse distante ou extremamente dificil, SABIA QUE PODERIA ALCANCA-LO
Gradually I realized that I was entering into equilibrium with the world around me. An eternal and dynamic scene all at once, exactly the same one that ancient sailors saw. Perhaps with the same intensity of emotion, fear or happiness. And the notion of time so exact to the point of knowing the tenths of a second of each hour, or so vague in space that nothing would change in a century. I wasn’t in a indefinite or permanent situation, and perhaps that’s why I felt so good. I had one goal in mind, and one only: to arrive to Brazil. And, although it was distant or extremely difficult, I KNEW I COULD ACHIEVE IT.
Eu sempre, desde garoto, me perguntava qual seria o melhor dia da vida, sem nunca-ter encontrado resposta. SEMPRE HAVIA UM NOVO DIA PARA ME CONFUNDIR. Durante a conturbada preparacao da viagem, por mais de dois anos, chegui a conclusao de que o meu melhor dia seria aquela em que, finalmente livre de problemas e dos ceticos, colocaria o barquinho na agua em direcao ao Brasil. Brilhante engano. Decididamente, o dia da partida foi o mais caotico e desastrado de toda minha existencia. Passado algum tempo, e ainda apavorado com a posibildade de ser atirado a Costa dos Esqueletos, tive certeza de que o grande dia seria aquele em que tivesse cruzado a metadade do Atlantico e entao estaria com o caminho garantido ate o Brasil. Pois aquele foi um dia exatamente igual a tantos outros, com cotidianos problemas para resolver, algumas duvidas e pequenas alegrias. Ficou evidente entao que o dia, o maior de todos os dias, seria aquele em que por fim avistasse terra firme. Nao foi bem assim.
I always, since a boy, wondered which would be the best day of my life, without ever having found the answer. THERE WAS ALWAYS A NEW DAY TO CONFUSE ME. During the trip’s troubled preparation, for more than two years, I arrived to the conclusion that my best day would be that in which, finally free of problems and skeptics, I’d set the little boat adrift toward Brazil. Brilliant lie. Undoubtedly, the departure day was the most chaotic and disastrous of my existence. As time passed, and still terrified at the possibility of being shattered against the Skeleton Coast, I was certain the grand day would be that in which I’d cross the Atlantic’s half-way point and thus would have guaranteed safe passage to Brazil. Well that day was exactly the same as so many others, with routine problems to resolve, a few doubts and small joys. It became evident then that the day, the greatest of all, would be when I’d finally see solid land. It wasn’t exactly like that.
Na quietude daquela noite, a ultima, ancorado no infinito sossego da Praia da Espera, sonhando com os olhos abertos e ouvindo outros barcos que tamben dormiam, DESCOBRI QUE A MAIOR FELICIDADE QUE EXISTE E A SILENCIOSA CERTEZA DE QUE VALE A PENA VIVIR.
In the quietness of that night, the last one, anchored in the Beach of Waiting’s infinite calm, dreaming with open eyes and watching the other boats sleep, I DISCOVERED THE GREATEST HAPPINESS THAT EXISTS IS THE SILENT KNOWING THAT LIFE IS WORTH LIVING.