By Anastasia Marchese
Michael Mault of West Orange is getting ready to take the journey of a lifetime.
On Sept. 27 he plans to depart on a sea voyage that will last 46 days, 36 of which will be in open sea, out of sight of land. He will be sailing on a 170 ft. traditional square rigged sailing vessel that is 105 years old named the Bark Europa.
According to the website, “At this moment the homeport of the ship is Scheveningen, The Hague, The Netherlands. The ship can house 48 trainees and 16 crew. The Europais, an official Sail Training Vessel. Being such a ship you will be mustered as a trainee and joining in the activities on deck and getting instructions from the crew is a real part of the experience on board. This way not only holiday seekers populate the ship but also students of the Maritime schools join the ship.”
Mault has always wanted to do something adventurous, and since he retired five years ago after serving on the Maplewood Police Department for 30 years, he has been mulling it over. Reflecting on how he finally made the decision he recalled “My wife said, if you want to do this, do it now.”
He decided to enlist on this journey on the Bark Europa as a temporary crew member. He will literally learn “the ropes” as the website explains, “One hour on board the Bark Europa and it will instantly be clear: “teamwork” has to be the key to this beautiful traditional sailing vessel. No winches, but an infinity of lines; at first glance maybe a complete jungle. The hundreds of blocks look like spiders in their webs. The novice sailor will be introduced to these matters every day and, after a few weeks, all those lines, blocks, stays, booms with their impossible names and functions become an open book.”
Each temporary crew member is teamed up with a full time crew member to learn how to sail the Blok Europa and learn traditional navigation. They work in four hour shifts with four hours on duty and eight hours off. This is not a job for those afraid of heights, as each temporary crew member must learn to climb the masts and hoist the sails.
As excited as Mault was for this opportunity, he didn’t want to do it just for himself. He wanted it to mean something more. Then he thought about his dearly departed loved ones who had lost their lives to a rare sort of brain cancer, glioblastoma multiforme (GBM).
In 1999 his mother, Loretta Mault, lost her life to the cancer, only two years after the death of her husband, Joseph Mault. Then in 2003, Dennis Mault, Michael’s brother succumbed to the same disease at the age of only 53. This was not the last time that the Mault family would be struck with this horrible disease. In 2013, Angelo Vayas, a close family friend also had his life taken by GBM.
“It is supposedly a rare cancer,” reflected Mault.
Both Maud’s father and brother were Marine veterans and avid sailors. Mault is also a former marine and is hoping his Marine training and instincts will kick in as he meets this new challenge. He chose a sailing expedition in part, to honor the lives of his father and brother but decided that he wanted his journey to do some good for those suffering from the terrible disease.
He started a YOUCARING page to help raise money for the American Brain Tumor Association. His page describes his purpose this way. “[I will be] crossing the Atlantic and Equator from the Canary Islands to Uruguay, sailing the trade winds. I am dedicating this voyage to my mother, brother and friend in an effort to raise awareness and funds to find a cure for this terrible disease. 100 percent of the donations will go to the American Brain Tumor Association. I will be traveling 5,000 nautical miles over 44 days at sea and hoping that each mile I sail brings us closer to a cure. No donation is too small and every little bit will make a difference.”
He said, “It has kinda taken on a life of it’s own,” about the fundraising. Mault never expected such an outpouring of interest, with almost $18,000 having been raised on the YOUCARING page alone. Mault’s son and his friend designed t-shirts and all 75 were sold in three days.
There has also been Pub nights organized to raise funds for the ABTA as well. The first Pub night took place on Aug. 5 at the Oak Barrel Pub and more than $350 was raised in the 50/50 alone. A portion of the pub sales from that night were also donated directly to the ABTA. Another Pub night is scheduled for Sept. 8 at the St. James Gate in Maplewood.
For more information or to donate go to www.youcaring.com and search for Sailing for a Solution.