Day 47: Darien

Finally, I’ve got around to writing a long-overdue blog, promised sometime back in May. Having been on sea anchor for the last four days, not much has happened except for me getting progressively sweatier and more fed up and ready to row, so I thought now would be a good time to make good on that promise.

Why did I name my boat Darien? It’s been on my mind throughout the journey, and although my thoughts are probably a little convoluted I’d like to share them.

I came across the name Darien when I was a child, on first reading what soon became one of my favourite books: ‘Swallows and Amazons’. If you don’t know it, I urge you to get hold of a copy and read it today. For those who haven’t read it yet, the first chapter is mainly set on a promontory that the children have named Darien. It reaches out across a big lake, and from there they can look on the island that they are hoping to go and camp on and the lake they want to sail and explore. This is still one of my very favourite books, partly due to nostalgia, but also because it is just brilliant. In ‘Swallows and Amazons’, for me, the peak in Darien always meant hope and and possibility of future excitement. It is the beginning of all the adventures, the place where plans are made and places are first glimpsed.

Once I was older I read the poem that the children have taken the name Darien from: Keats’ ‘On First Looking Into Chapman’s Homer’, which ends:

“…Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez when, with eagle eyes,
He stared at the Pacific – and all his men
Looked at each other with a wild surmise –
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.”

(Apologies for errors – I’m writing from memory so the punctuation might be dodgy.)

This is a poem about new experiences, about seeing things for the first time and in a new way. Every time I say those final lines to myself I feel a shiver of excitement.

I’m seeing things out here that no one in the world has ever seen before and nor ever will – sunsets, fish, waves, clouds – they change and change again and continually re-form. It is a strange feeling to be looking at, say, a fantastic sunset, and know that no one else in the world can see it as I’m seeing it. By the time it reaches other people it will have changed into something different. This journey was also about learning to see parts of myself and my own life in a new and different way – so much time alone has offered me a lot of time to think.

Darien is of the Pacific, and for me is a place from which grow adventures and from where new things are seen. My little Darien has definitely not disappointed.

9 thoughts on “Day 47: Darien

  1. Your words bring tears to my eyes out of joy for for the adventures you’ve seen (and a bit of sadness for the lack of bravery I have to attempt the same.) For now we’re all living vicariously through you and your journey with Darian! Row on Elsa. I have a feeling a great book will come from this! Can’t wait to see you soon. XO


  2. Hi Elsa still at then great blog I can only imagine what’s it’s like what a experience keep going good luck


    1. I agree with you Beck! Maybe I shouldn’t have chosen the very full waiting room for my mammogram to read this, because it got me teary as well. Now all of these people are probably wondering if I think I’m about to find out if I have cancer or something! 🙂 But it has been inspiring to read all about Elsa’s adventures! I’d never be that brave so like you, I’ll live vicariously through Elsa and Darien! Keep on keeping on Elsa! Becky’s family in Kentucky are still cheering you on!


  3. Oh mia cara adorata ELSA. Sentire il tuo animo cantare è come risvegliarsi in una foresta riscaldata dal sole estivo tra il canto di mille volatili. Non ho mai letto questo libro, ma in poche righe me ne hai fatto provare l emozione. Se solo potessi vorrei fondermi con la tua anima in un allegra danza, ma tutto cio non è possibile. Non c’è l hai fatta? ??sappiamo benissimo noi viaggiatori che la meta non è che un punto di riferimento vago e forse solo un mero incoraggiamento per metterci in viaggio. Se non avessi avuto quella meta non ti saresti mai messa dentro una canoa a remare come una pazza vero? Sei nel mio cuore, tutto questo viaggio lo sei stata. Torna a casa che fremo dalla voglia di vedere il tuo sorriso il quale sono sicuro sarà ancora più splendente dopo tutti questi tramonti, dopo tutte queste remate, dopo tutte queste avventure.

    Forza forza rema rema che ti aspettiamo tutti a casa. Sei una grande donna e sono felice di avere un amica dolce bella e coraggiosa come te.

    con amore oscar


  4. Your best blog ever ! You even picked a very cool name for your boat.

    My grandparents lived in New Canaan, Connecticut sort of on a Hobbit Hill. My brothers and I have tremendous memories of that special, magical place. We hiked all over the woods and rocky terrain looking for trolls; ate wild raspberries; built forts; rode bikes amid the dragon flies and butterflies; and tried to catch fire flies in the evening that looked like glowing embers of a puffy cigar. My parents read “Children of the Forest” by Elsa Beskow for bedtime, and encouraged us to get out and enjoy nature. I guess I was somewhat of a tomboy when I was little. Eventually, my grandmother had enough of me coming home with dirty clothes, and made me cook by her, her second hands, and with lots of scolding and kind words turned me into a girly girl (jeans and pants were replaced by dresses and skirts). We would head out to various spots for shopping and running errands.

    One town, which is idyllic, is Darien, not far from New Canaan. For a brief time, I thought your boat may have been named after this cute, little hamlet. My brothers and I eventually rode our bikes into Darien. The two lane country roads from New Canaan to Darien wind among the forest and form these majestic tree tunnels that are like a whimsy canopy over the roads with sunlight filtering through at times.

    I will definitely pick up a copy of “Swallows and Amazons” and look for Keats’ poem about Darien.


  5. The books a favorite of mine too. Something of Granny in there too, me thinks. I haven’t read the poem for a long long time so will reread it, with you in mind. What an adventure you are having! Hopefully you are rowing again now and will be making good progress. M x


  6. Hi Elsa..I’ve been following your progress and I am FULL of admiration of what you set out to achieve and the way in which you have persevered despite really difficult conditions. You are so brave! Toni and I are spending the summer in a boat too, but ours is more comfortable than yours! We have got a 26ft sailing boat..a Contessa 26…and we are at Le Tréport in France at the moment. I won’t tell you how lovely it all is because it will make you sick.

    I hope that the conditions relent and that you get some good day’s rowing and a chance to rest. When you get back to dry land it will seem bizarre to sleep in a bed that doesn’t move!

    Warm best wishes to you Elsa: we are thinking of you.



  7. Hi, my name is Darien and this has really fascinated me! I work in sales and after taking to someone on the phone for a while he started to tell me the story! Thank you for writing this! I really enjoyed it!



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s