Daniel Caponetto is a sailing aficionado who wants to prove to himself that he has the leadership and navigational skills to captain a ship. On his Odyssey he proves he’s not afraid of the unknown as he tests his sailing skills in the North Atlantic and the Equatorial Pacific.
Going into this Odyssey I had no idea what exactly was in store for myself and crew. All I knew was that we were going to be sailing in the North Atlantic and Equatorial Pacific.I was excited–to say the least–and extremely grateful for the opportunity Sperry presented. That being said, my nerves had put my stomach in my throat in anticipation for what was to come.
The trip started out on a dock in Maine meeting the rest of the crew and jumping on the Bandera, a quite remarkable vessel that is absolutely gorgeous. It did not take long for everyone to connect with each other so we took off shortly thereafter. That was my first time sailing in the Northeast and seeing the sheer beauty of Maine allowed me to relax and enjoy the scenario.
After a few hours of sailing that first evening we found our anchorage destination just before dark. We all bundled up to get ready for a breezy night on the ocean. Since the wind was a bit stronger than we would have liked, Hugh, the Captain, delegated that we needed night watchers to switch off every two hours to make sure our boat stayed on the spot we anchored. I had the 2-4am shift which was pretty cold but I ended up just staying warm with a couple blankets and reading on deck comfortably. At the beginning of my watch I noticed a couple of rising stars or planets on the Northern horizon that burned so brightly I could see their reflection bouncing off the water’s surface.
The morning after started great and led to the most magnificent day. Everyone woke up and we shared coffee; then, the rope swing seemed to appear out of nowhere… Hugh and Rob, the captain’s first mate, set up the spinnaker pole high enough up the mast for us to use as a swing. At first I was a fair bit reluctant imagining how cold the water was going to be, but I came around and took advantage of how awesome of an idea and opportunity to bond with the crew this was going to be. And that it was! Conor was flying high, Ariel and Christina were killing it, and Alex was flipping all around. It was great! At one point Ariel and Conor even went at the same time.
After a while we gathered up and decided to go for a sail. It was a bit of a struggle getting the anchor up that morning but it all worked out safely for the crew and the boat so it was okay.
We got going and decided to just have a fun sail dodging lobster pots right and left, almost snagging a couple along the way. At some point we noticed a lobsterman not too far from us so we reached out and shouted if there was anyway we could buy some lobsters from him. He told us he needed some extra hands more than money and if we helped him out that we could keep a couple. A very generous offer, indeed. So, Christina, Ariel and Alex hopped on his boat and went to wrangle some lobster traps while Conor and I stuck to the boat and kept watch searching for a beach to hang out, cook the lobsters and watch the sunset.
In about an hour or two Ariel, Alex and Christina returned with two buckets full of lobsters and we had the perfect spot to cook them. To the beach we went where we built a fire, laid down stones, spread out a small layer of kelp and cooked the lobsters right there into the sunset. Seriously one of my favorite experiences of all time. The lobsters tasted amazing, the sunset was exquisite, and I was fortunate enough to spend that evening with awesome new friends.
The next day, after some considerate deliberation, we decided to sail to Monhegan Island. We made the decision so we could sail all day and check out a new place. Conor had heard some positive things about Monhegan so we set course and started sailing. About a quarter or half way into the excursion something malfunctioned with the main sail causing it to fall all the way back down to the boom. Lucky for us the lazy jacks did their job and our sail didn’t end up in the ocean.
We had enough fuel to make it to our destination so we continued on hoping we’d find the part we needed to fix the main sail. Turns out our main halyard shackle had broken, so in the morning after our arrival we hunted for the part we needed on Monhegan. We asked around and to our fortune one of the locals had the exact size we needed! We felt grateful to be able to enjoy the generosity, hospitality and beauty of the island and people.
When we returned to the boat we needed to get to the top of the mast to grab the halyard and return it to the deck to replace the part. It somehow was decided it would be me to go up and though I was happy to help in anyway, I was not thrilled to be the one going up (seeing as how I’m not the best with heights). I knew I would be alright because I did feel a fair amount of trust in my fellow crew; so up I went. Apart from sliding around in the chair on the way up, it was awesome! I was able to retrieve the halyard and snap a few film shots of Monhegan and the crew from a bird’s eye view. It was way better than I was expecting and I definitely learned that seemingly impossible obstacles in life are conquerable with the proper trust in myself and friends. This was the perfect way to cap off the Maine portion of the odyssey and I felt confident now to go to Nicaragua with Christina, Conor, Ariel and Alex and tackle whatever lay ahead.
Nicaragua started fantastically. From hopping on the Antares, our pirate ship for this leg of the Odyssey, to swimming with turtles, corralling the young turtles towards the water and watching one lay eggs—Nicaragua kicked off well and laid the foundation for an extraordinary trip. I was able to surf, spearfish, snorkel, see some Howler Monkeys, meet rad locals and eat the best ceviche ever! I feel I was able to connect with the ocean in new ways on this trip and truly connect with myself on a deeper level.
Nicaragua was a true test of my character and my ability to step up and lead as a captain. Conor is thoroughly impressing as such an amazing sailor; from his knowledge of sailing history/mechanics to his ability underway I was honored when he handed the helm over to me. I was extremely thankful and surprised knowing I had a difficult task to undertake, especially since I had limited experience in this position; but, I wanted to perform and learn as much as I could from such a gift of an opportunity. I knew there were plenty of mistakes I could make yet I believe mistakes allow individuals to build on their knowledge of not only the activity, but themselves as well.
The night we sailed in search for the surf spot I wanted to check out started out very well; however, as the storm ahead started raging (which was beautiful and terrifying at the same time), Ariel started feeling tumultuous too. She is a very strong person and when she told me what was wrong I knew at that moment the correct action was to return to land to find her medical attention. It was important to me that the crew was all healthy and safe so getting back to a safe harbor instantly became the priority. Conor, Alex, and I wrestled the sails down once we were getting close to shore while Christina stayed with Ariel to keep her company and let us know if things were getting better or worse. On our way into harbor we had to dodge some rocks but ultimately found Ariel the proper help she needed making us all feel far better.
And even more on the positive side, the next morning there happened to be some waves right near where we dropped anchor. Alex and I were able to get a couple before the girls returned later and it was awesome. The waves were not the best, but just the fact that I was surfing alone with Alex on this beautifully empty beach in the middle of Nicaragua made the adventure that much more amazing. Then, finding out afterwards that Ariel was all better exponentially increased my happiness that day and the rest of the trip.
The whole odyssey ended at a beach bar, sipping refreshments, eating delicious ceviche prepared with fish Alex caught, chatting about how lucky we were to meet each other and spend such wonderful times together, all whilst enjoying the magnificent sunset. Feeling as though we had known each other for ages we couldn’t believe that two weeks prior we were complete strangers. I could not have asked for a more interesting group of people to share this experience with and cannot wait for the next!
Written by Daniel Caponetto. Follow Daniel on Instagram @distant_futures
Learn more about the other travelers on this Odyssey: