Words of Welcome

Who am I and what am I up to?

Welcome to the Logbook of S/Y Perelandra. My name is Dan Bouchard and this blog will include updates, memoirs and reflections as I create a new life path; a path on which my passion for seafaring and my humanitarian calling join in singular pursuit. In our case the designation S/Y (typically Sailing Yacht) will mean Service Yacht. Even though I think most people associate the word yacht with excess, I use it here to best describe ourselves to other vessels. A yacht is a private vessel, and ours has mission motivating her travels.

My crew includes my wife Marissa and our school-aged children, Caroline and Philip. We have prepared for a year of full-time cruising beginning July of 2022. Planning for a leave of absence has not been possible during the pandemic however, as Marissa is a teacher with a long-timeline application process. I’ve continued preparations on board regardless. This summer we will cruise in Maine and my family will return to school in September.

For five years I’ve served as Director of Lifespan Religious Education at a Universalist congregation in Connecticut. Despite the changes to our plans I’ll leave the position in June. Now three months of work remain, another three of vacation, and no plans exist from that point forward. Well, not exactly no plans…

I’ve had a nagging feeling for a while. It lurks behind my proud thoughts that tell me I’ve worked hard and been good, and that even if the suggestion of retirement is facetious I can certainly justify taking time for some adventure along the way. Of course the benefits to the children make the position ever easier to defend.

When I’m quiet and listen carefully I hear a different voice. It’s one that has been suppressed by the noise of daily life and suburban entitlement. It asks me what right I have to go sailing. It asks me to whom I am beholden to be in such a position. It asks me where the true potentials of my skills, knowledge, and assets lie. It tells me that there is no morality in simply leaving no trace. It reminds me that I have everything that I need.

With those echoes reverberating stronger every day I’ve found clarity in purpose. Perelandra and I combined have far more in us than a vacation cruise. We have the capacity to do great things in service to those with needs beyond our own. We have the opportunity to connect people physically and symbolically at once. We have the ability to create then tell meaningful stories. To this end, I’ll use the coming year to stage a Service Expedition. The basic premise is this: granted a year of time budgeted, I plan to identify a partner organization to work for, run a drive and/or fundraising campaign locally, then deliver by sail.

I am in the early stages of planning and beginning to interview crew. In fact I’m looking for more than crew; I’m looking for a partner or two that will be interested in building one expedition into another. This might mean the creation of a non-profit, or something that can self-fund through storytelling. We’ll make that decision in the spirit of collaboration once a team emerges and we can assess our values and strengths.

In the meantime, I invite you to follow my progress in this blog space. I make no promises regarding the regularity of posts, but one of my goals is for reasonable intervals and consistency to practice writing. If you find this interesting I hope that you’ll write to me. A thing like this can’t exist without a network of friends and supporters. I can’t predict where the story will end, but this is its start. Welcome aboard!