John Lennon sails the Megan Jaye from Newport, Rhode Island to Hamilton, Bermuda.
On the morning of June 5, 1980 John Lennon, along with Captain Hank Halstad, Tyler Coneys and his cousins, Ellen and Kevin, left Newport for Bermuda on the Megan Jaye, a 43-foot Hinckley sloop.
The sail from Newport, R.I., to Hamilton, Bermuda, was an epic voyage for Lennon. Not since Lennon had boarded Alan William’s mini-van and gone off to Hamburg had Lennon taken such an exciting leap into the unknown. He would be alone among strangers in a wild sea and was about to take the greatest risk, a risk that he had spent his whole life avoiding. John was about to fulfill one of his most cherished childhood fantasy, the great dream of going off to sea just as his father and grandfather had done before him. What happens next is inevitable, the ship ran into stormy seas and eventually a tempest. One after another the crew were incapacitated by sickness.
During the storm the Lennon took the wheel. He was petrified at the shear force driving the ship into the waves with spray stinging his face and streaming down over his glasses. After 15 minutes of this powerful experience, Lennon began to feel his courage rising. As the sea rose before him, Lennon shouted back in defiance, singing shanties, sailor’s songs and old ballads he had heard in Liverpool.
Lennon recounted in an interview with Playboy,
“So there I was at the wheel with the wind and sea lashing out at me. At first I was terrified, but Captain Hank was at my side so I felt relatively safe because I knew he wouldn’t let me do anything stupid. After a while Captain Hank wasn’t feeling too well so he went to the cabin below.
“Once I accepted the reality of the situation, something greater than me took over and all of a sudden I lost my fear. I actually began to enjoy the experience and I started to shout out old sea shanties in the face of the storm, screaming at the thundering sky.”
The experience was life changing for John Lennon and after safely arriving in Bermuda on June 11th he inscribed in the logbook,
“Dear Megan there is no place like nowhere.” He also left a note for the captain and drew a caricature self-portrait and a sketch of the Megan Jaye sailing into the sunset. “Hank love John Lennon.”
The importance of the Megan Jaye experience cannot be emphasised too strongly after several years of lack of confidence and no recording this experience not only gave John his confidence back but also inspired him to write again the outcome being John’s final recording Double Fantasy.
Six months after this epic journey, John Lennon was assassinated on December 8th on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.