David Clark onboard the Mollie Milar
David Clark onboard the Mollie Milar. “Named after my mother, she lived to be 94, because she ate grits and fatback”
David Clark onboard the Mollie Milar
David Clark onboard the Mollie Milar. “Named after my mother, she lived to be 94, because she ate grits and fatback”

The oldest person to sail solo around the world

David Clark’s Trip through the Panama Canal

“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes-and ships-and sealing wax-
Of cabbages-and kings-
And why the sea is boiling hot-
and whether pigs have wings.”

Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, 1872
Sign above the door, "Gatun Locks Panama Canal 1913."
This canal was started 20 years before the United States took over in 1904, and finished in 1914. NO Fax, No Telephone, just BIG dreams. The was given to the Panama people on December 31, 1999, at 12 noon.
David Clark Panama Canal Yacht Club
David Clark started at the Panama Canal Yacht Club. Located at Colon, on the Atlantic side.
Mollie Milar an ordinary boat
Not pretty, very ordinary in many ways, but doing this extraordinary event. “Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” Napoleon Hill.

I cannot begin to understand what happens to a man, that one day he wakes up, and wants to sail a boat around the world, Alone… By age 75 most people would think that that the battle is over, or not possible to win. Resigned to some station in life, and that all other stations are taken, or held by someone else. To think, to hold the concept, to make a commitment of this magnitude is beyond my comprehension. But he did, and I was talking to an ordinary man, not special, Kind, nice, and worried about having enough food, on the boat, and whether we needed paper plates.

I had to literally talk my way on the boat, by promising to take a lot of pictures and to do anything. I was not needed.

Opening of the Panama Canal locks
Opening of the Panama Canal locks

The boat was a 42 foot, homemade boat, no bragging rights here. Unlike most of my sailor friends, that would constantly be telling me the draft, the length, how it compared to other sailboats, and the reasons they made the decision to buy their boat. He never talked of his boat, other than strictly pragmatic needs. The goal superseded the lesser concern. Focus in such a simple way on his objective.

He was going through the canal the next day, and he had a few things to do. He was not talking about the future, or what could happen, solely making the plan. I ask what happened to you? What makes you special. We laughed and joked and finally define the word as:

Mollie Milar wating for the Panama Canal gates
We are waiting for her in the Gatun lock to enter. This boat has entered the lock. The water raised it up, the gate on the other side will open, and it will leave, and we will enter. Note: That boat is not us, we are entering at the same time with another boat.
Mooring the yacht
Mooring the yacht. Small lead weights attached to a small rope are thrown to all 4 corners of the boat. The boat is then secure to the walls, so that it does not move when lowered or raised.

Tenacity…

He was not going to stop. I am not sure whether the other people on the boat even understood what he was doing. He was just an old man with a boat, and they were happy to go through the canal. I took over 160 digital pictures of the event. Not one person ask me for my email address, I collect the ones that I wished, but I felt that maybe, I was the only one who looked at it as a small piece of history. I want to capture all of it, I tried my best, climbing up and down, jumping and running to take pictures of everything. Afraid that I would miss the moment or the perfect shot. I wanted to get out of the boat, at the locks and run alongside to take pictures. As it turned out, I manned one corner or one line of the boat. I had to take pictures in between doing my line handling job.

David Clark and Andy Hobo Traveler
David Clark and Andy Hobo Traveler. The one thing I am sure we had in common. We both like coffee in the morning! I had to sleep on the deck outside the cabin.

Funny. as I travel the world, I find so few people that can look at the wonder of the world. There is a constant minimizing of the spectacular, and a constant glorification of themselves. Like somehow any of us are that important. I hope that I endeavor one such accomplishment in my life.

I think I met a hero. An ordinary person doing something extraordinary.

A passion… The thought scares me, ALONE around the world.

Thank You, Dave,
Andy Graham


View more pictures here: https://web.archive.org/web/20091027014826/http://geocities.com/captainclark_2000/index/.

Update: Unfortunately, Captain Clark’s pictures were lost when Geocities was abandoned by Yahoo. It was one of the first social media websites. It connected communities of people based on “neighborhoods” of interests.

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