Sailing in the Same Boat

“Why do Africans not swim?” I ask Ayo. “The Middle Passage,” he answers. “For you white people, the water is a playground, for us, it is the point of no return.”In a fusion of cruising and performing, two men – one black, one white – are preparing to retrace the Atlantic Slave Triangle on their expedition, “Deep Water/High Seas.” Martin Hubbard and Ayodale Scott will anchor in the
Author:
Updated:
Original:
instory_sb_2

“Why do Africans not swim?” I ask Ayo. “The Middle Passage,” he answers. “For you white people, the water is a playground, for us, it is the point of no return.”

In a fusion of cruising and performing, two men – one black, one white – are preparing to retrace the Atlantic Slave Triangle on their expedition, “Deep Water/High Seas.” Martin Hubbard and Ayodale Scott will anchor in the UK, West Africa and the Caribbean, visiting the same ports their ancestors sailed through two centuries ago. From their 37-foot trimaran, Sameboat, they will perform “Black Men Don’t Float?,” a 45-minute piece meant to transform a tragic historical reality into a cross-cultural understanding – one that addresses their roots while confronting the racial issues of today.

The show, written by Martin and Ayo, tells of a white yachtsman single-handing around Africa for charity who collides with an African migrant in a canoe. They end up on the same boat and are forced to coexist amidst their differences. The audience – many of whose ancestry also relates to the Middle Passage – watches from the side decks and harbor walls.

instory_sb_4

In a sense, the play mirrors the story of the men aboard. Martin hails from an upper-class anglo-catholic family from Britain. Ayo grew up in a Sierra Leone compound where four extended families shared a living space the size of Martin’s drawing room. Yet, through art and sailing, they found a way to be in the same boat together. “At its most basic, the trip should provide an honest record of a white man and a black man facing up to their cultural and personal differences and heritages,” explains Martin.

Martin and Ayo have already discovered the challenges of funding their trip. “We have no shortage of inventiveness and commitment,” says Martin. “Our obstacles have been mostly financial and organizational.” Because the Atlantic is considered International waters, national arts alliances are unable to fund their journey, so the men are hoping to eventually pay it off through revenue from their website, books and lectures. Meanwhile, they are solidifying their crew and tour dates for a trip they hope will begin in autumn 2009.

“Lie back and float,” I say. “Black men don’t float,” he answers. “Yes they do. It’s a myth. Black and white people, they both float.”

To view videos of Martin and Ayo, check out the following:

A glimpse of life aboard Sameboat

A preview of their show, Black Men Don't Float?

Martin and Ayo perform portions of another show, Mami Wata

Related

Canal-1-Marina-Hemingway-looking-west-spring-2016

Cruising: A Farewell to Cuba

For a few sweet years, American cruisers had the freedom to sail to Cuba. It was good while it lasted, says Addison Chan Cuba has assumed near-mythical properties in the community of sailors around the world. It is almost impossible to utter the name without conjuring up images ...read more

brickhouse

Is Cruising Still Safe?

It is with great sadness that we read of the murder of New Zealand cruiser Alan Culverwell, and the attack on his family, by criminals who boarded their boat in Panama’s Guna Yala/San Blas Islands early in May. The San Blas were known as a “safe” area to cruise. Aside from petty ...read more

QuarterdeckBuildingWatercolor

Bitter End Yacht Club 2.0

Amid the widespread devastation caused by hurricanes Irma and Maria when they swept across the northern Caribbean in September 2017, the destruction of the iconic Bitter End Yacht Club on Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands was particularly keenly felt by sailors. The ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com The back door Satisfied with your headsails? So was I, until one day I took a long, hard look up the luff of my genoa, making sure I inspected the leeward side as well. The sail had plenty of life ...read more

02-Lydia12-01

Losing Sight of Shore

I arrived on the docks of Beaufort, North Carolina, in late April with two backpacks filled with new gear—everything I’d need for my first offshore passage. Though I’d been sailing for 16 years, graduating from dinghies to keelboats to a J/122, I’d spent my time racing and, in ...read more

Squall

The Face of a Squall

They are the worst of times, they are the best of times There’s a fabulous line from an old Paul Simon song that I often sing to myself while sailing: I can gather all the news I need from the weather report. It is part of the magic of sailing, this ancient process by which we ...read more