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It’s amazing what you can find when you leave your comfort zone

by Barry Ginter

Trent Dolan didn’t quite realize what he was signing up.

What he did know was he was being given the chance to co-captain a small yacht on part of its around-the-world voyage. And that in itself seemed like quite an adventure for someone who had never sailed on the ocean.

But standing at the helm at midnight in a January gale off Mexico, he found himself wondering if he’d even be alive the next day. Uncertainty and fear … ingredients of a true adventure.

Trent, who writes the “Past Pages” feature for the Appeal along with his sister, Sue Ballew, was co-captain of the Lively Lady, a 35-foot yacht crewed by two adults and two disadvantaged young people. Dolan, 50, co-captained the boat for a month from Guatamala to San Diego.

The yacht is famous in England because an adventurer named Alec Rose sailed it solo around the world in 1967. He decided that, on the 40th anniversary of that journey, he would use it to help disadvantaged youth learn sailing and life skills, and it is now on its nine-month journey.

For all the fame and all the people following it on its journey, there’s one inescapable fact about the Lucky Lady. It’s small.

The teak yacht isn’t fancy, either, and it wouldn’t stand out in many marinas.

The important thing is that it’s well made.

Trent went aboard on Jan. 9 in Guatamala, and it was immediately apparent how cramped the quarters would be. There were just two bunks for the crew. They slept in four-hour shifts, with those on duty piloting the boat and keeping watch for ships and other hazards.

And he quickly discovered that the English cuisine he’d be eating for the next four weeks was bland. A favorite of the English crew was bangers and mash (sausages and mashed potatoes). Between that and the constant activity, he lost 7 pounds on the trip.

Trent had no ocean experience, but has been sailing on Lake Tahoe for decades. He said the lake didn’t quite prepare him for the trip.

“This was way outside, way outside, my comfort level,” he said. “My absolute worst day on Tahoe was my calmest day on the ocean.”

And at no time was that more apparent than that long night sailing into a gale, the water hitting his face like BBs, the yacht riding a roller coaster of waves and swells.

At the time, he wouldn’t have had any problem thinking of places he’d rather be, but now that’s a fond memory.

“I’m capable of a lot more than I’d ever imagined,” he said.

In fact, the entire trip worked out remarkably well, and he said it gave him an opportunity to experience life like he’d never known before.

And it’s something he’d never have known if he hadn’t stepped outside his comfort zone.

If you want to learn more about the voyage and the yacht, visit http://livelylady.net

•••

It won’t be long before it’s time to judge senior projects again at Carson High School. If you’re interested in being a judge on May 1-2, call Darlene Nevin at 283-1945.

If you’re not familiar with it, a senior project is a prerequisite for graduation, and includes a research paper, major project and ultimately a presentation to a panel of community members.

Already, students have been working diligently on their projects, many of which are focused on community service.

A perfect example is a project being done by Tiffani Barber. Her grandmother has multiple sclerosis, so she’s putting on a benefit concert on Monday, with all the profit going toward MS.

Barber loves music, singing, and dancing so it seemed a perfect project.

The event will be at 7 p.m. at the Carson City Community Center, and the acts will be by performers age 11-18 for prizes. It will also include a bake sale at intermission.