Oct 222017

Markus awakes yet again to the cold sweat of fear.

He finds himself in a long, dark corridor, right at the very end. No matter which way he looks, he can perceive but two options.

Former colleagues, knives out and heads like snakes, block the return to a bright and cheery cubicle hell. Worse still, some advance with malicious intent.

At the dead end, a vast and intimidating fire escape door emblazoned with the words “Exit Only. No Return!”

Unable (or perhaps unwilling) to fight his way back to the light, Markus rests one trembling hand on the door release, sensing full well the turbulent vortex beyond, waiting to suck him out. Its a drastic move he now contemplates, with no turning back once it’s done.

The unknown looms fearfully on the other side. A drop to a grimy sidewalk eleven stories down? A sailboat voyage to tropical paradise? Or something unknown in between?

Uncertain and afraid, Markus pulls the covers up and returns to restless sleep, hoping with all his being the situation might resolve itself, but knowing full well that only he can change things by opening that damn door…….

Jan 012017

Those who know me will vouch, I’m not a New Year’s Resolution kind of guy. There’s no difference between the 31st and the 1st in my book, no reason not to make decisions and take action when you think of them no matter the time of year.

That said, time off life and work that is typical this time of the year does lend itself to more contemplation and introspection ……

2016 has been a watershed year for for myself and my sailing. This was the year I finally bit the bullet and moved Ocean Blue down to the coast. A very good year in that regard. Somewhat less good because I’m still stuck up here in Jo’burg slaving away to pay the bills.

I’ve spent a fair amount of time reflecting on when and how to move the rest of life down to the beach to join the boat. As with all things in life, it’s rarely simple, rarely just as easy as saying “Sell up everything and go”. Well at least for me it’s not that easy even though I know it’s possible and been done a thousand times by a thousand sailors.

Several more years of ‘varsity commitments remain. Those are best dealt with while the corporate salary trickles in.

Sandy, although she’s slowly getting into the Table Bay sailing, is not of the same “sell up all to sail” school. She likes her house by the beach and if she had to choose it would be that rather than the boat. To be honest, I’m not sure I’d like to only have the boat. The land base by the beach also appeals to me. (Shhhhhh! Don’t tell anyone)

Lastly, South African legislation imposes prohibitive penalties on early withdrawals of retirement funds and annuities before the age of 55. That means that whatever I decide to do I need to make the greatest effort to keep up the payments for at least the next 7 years. Whether I stick it out at the Jo’burg job, find another in Cape Town or find a way to make sipping martinis from the hammock pay, either way I need to generate enough cashflow each month to keep the investments going. Anything else just doesn’t make financial sense.

People looking in on the dream from afar may well believe it’s not happening. It might appear that it’s stalled and we’ll never get it right. But that’s not true. Yes it’s slow. Much slower than I would ideally like. But it’s happening. Most definitely.

The most very hard and difficult thing though is I miss the boat and I miss sailing her. Living an hour away when she was on the Vaal is nothing compared to the gulf of time and space that now separates us. No longer can I just pop in for the weekend to check the lines, see if the bilges are dry. No longer an easy weekend escape from the rat race and a leisurely overnight anchorage in Bunny Brook to take the edge off a hard week in the office.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining. But I’d be lying if I said that the current transition is easy.

I harbour ambitions to cruise the West Coast, see St Helena, perhaps cruise Ilha Grande and further south. To do this, there are a thousand-and-one things to do on board. Repairs, improvements, upgrades. With me in Jo’burg and ‘Blue in Cape Town, that preparation phase is very, very difficult. Almost impossible.

And that’s the thing I’m finding most difficult. This period between moving the boat and moving myself. It wasn’t easy in 2016 and it wont be easy in 2017.

As usual, life is all about finding balance and so, if ever there was a resolution made, it’s to try and keep the dream moving forward while keeping the stash growing and future finances healthy. The moral of the story though is “Don’t bury your dreams.” Find a way to make them happen. After all, what will you achieve if you spend all your living days working, saving, hoping one day to find the time to live and youtr time runs out? Many people gamble that way and for some it works out. For many others the gamble fails due to accident, ill health or other circumstances.

Tomorrow may never come. Build your dream today. Take action and make it happen no matter how slowly.

Happy New Year to you all and may 2017 be good to you and your dreams!

Oct 062016

There are two types in this life…..

Those that talk, scheme, plan, solicit others to join their schemes and then never follow through.

And those that actually just say they will and then, despite all obstacles actually just point the boat east and sail!

Your choice.

I’ll take the time to remind you sir – the investigation into sails, chart-plotter cards, safety gear – this all came about after you, dear friend, pushed for entry into the MB-Race. None of this was ever asked for or hinted at prior to that fateful day.


Jul 032016

It’s tempting to forever procrastinate and postpone using the excuse of not being prepared, of not being ready. Often this pretty much boils down to “I haven’t the required kit yet so I must first spend and prepare some more before I can go“. I suppose some folks don’t struggle with this but I certainly find myself having similar thoughts and I’m guessing I’m not alone in this regard.

Take a look at this picture:

Fully kitted landy

The Fully-Kitted Expedition Landy

Now imagine pulling up next to them in the paradise-campsite and hauling out your flimsy 2-man tent while they set-up camp, barely breaking a sweat and sipping ice-cold beers while watching you trying to find the right end of the right tent pole? Their solar-powered fridge delivers up an endless supply of liquid refreshment and their roll-out camp kitchen makes your attempts to cook, eat and clean out of a single-burner, single pot setup feel a little spartan and backward.

Perhaps then we start to narrow down the crux of the problem – our desire to never be uncomfortable, to have all the conveniences of modern life the instant we desire them. We forget that the people in the photo above travel and live out of their mobile Landy-home 365/24/7. They have no home other than this and so it makes sense to rig it as efficiently and as comfortably as possible. The problem arises when some cubicle-hell-slave sees this and, without considering all the sacrifices these folks have made to live their dream, instantly desires to live the life he perceives from the photograph. It sounds cool to have an expedition vehicle, to travel off the beaten track, to watch the sun set over the dusty, isolated western horizon with all the comforts of home and we think to ourselves “If they can have it then I can to. I work so hard in cubicle-hell I damn well deserve to!

And so, Mr Want-It-Now goes into spend mode, maxing out the bank loans to buy and fit out a similar vehicle [even though it will in all probability spend 99% of it’s time on the tarmac doing the daily office commute]. No expense is spared to replicate or even improve on the ultimate adventure vehicle and in turn, long, dark hours are spent servicing the debt all in a vain attempt to replicate this perceived life over the annual 2-week escape period.

I sometimes wonder if we wouldn’t be better off without all the visual stimulation and marketing that this modern world has subjected us to. Us moderns, we are sorely tempted every time we see another man’s possessions. To be honest, I think this has been part of mankind throughout history, this incessant desire to have more than you need, to be “better” than your neighbour. Perhaps man’s progress as a species would not be what it is if there wasn’t this inherent drive for better, for more? On the other hand, it is exactly this drive that has the planet in crisis, terminally ill with over-consumption and rampant consumerism! On the whole I don’t believe man has found the right balance.

It’s easy to convince ourselves that we cannot go now, that we need to plan and prepare [spend?] a little more before we’re ready. We just need this additional widget, this added little bit of training, a few more dollars before we’re ready to set out. It’s very, very easy to never be ready, to always remain an armchair traveler and a dreamer.

While it may be nice to have all the kit on the Expedition Landy, there is no reason why you can’t go with your 2-man tent, a portable single-burner camping stove and the desire to be outdoors. You may not be as comfortable or as efficient as Landy-Guy but the wilderness and the sunset out there is the same one that Landy-Guy spent a lot more than you to see.

Keep preparing to live or just live despite your constraints. Your choice.

Jun 252016

With total financial independence (FI) perhaps the end goal, one needs a strategy to keep you focused and sane on the (long) journey to that end result.

Enter the concept of financial flexibility (FF)

You’ll never reach FI unless you constantly improve and grow your FF.

FF means the ability to make choices, to explore options that perhaps pay less but allow more time, that perhaps sacrifice some income but allow relocation closer to the beach and the boat.

Too often in this world life is portrayed as an all-or-nothing race. You’re either FI or not. And if you’re not (and considering how the end goal is so far off and apparently “unachievable”) then you may as well give up and return to the woolly masses. Extreme sports, celebrity, top-ten business, richest man in the world, blah etc blah – we are inundated constantly by stories of the outliers, the extremists, the top performers – with the implied message “nothing else is worthwhile“.

Not true! Life is always more complex and multi-faceted than the media stories portray. It’s important to remember that. Almost everything you read, almost everything “marketed” to you, shows a selective, out-of-context extract of someone’s life. That aspirational solo-trek to the north pole often doesn’t show the rest of life and the resultant sacrifices made to achieve that one event. The martini and the palm fronds with the sailboat at anchor in the background – that is just a very small part of the story.

So ‘Blue now lies impatiently waiting in her slip in the South Atlantic. There’s an immeasurably long road trip that now separates us and a constant mental tweaking of the budget to figure out how often I can afford to fly out to visit and sail. It’s hopefully just a temporary state of affairs, a stepping stone to something else.

I suppose some people do go for the all-or-nothing approach, selling up everything and moving the whole of life in one big bang. I understand that but for us, right now, the time is not right to do that. Perhaps tomorrow, perhaps never? But in the meantime we are constantly chipping away at the huge boulder that is the present, slowly carving out a life we both keenly desire.

While day-sailing in Table Bay once a month may not be the ultimate, final desire, it sure beats not sailing in the ocean at all. Just like FF, it may end up being all that is possible or, just maybe, a state of total FI one day may enable a season or two at anchor in Baia da Ilha Grande?

Apr 152016

Adventure bikes. Once again my brain under the misconception that I don’t “adventure” out because I dont have an “adventure” bike in the stable.

The life one observes out there sometimes seems a lot like that, especially true of me sometimes, but it’s totally bogus. The reason we don’t venture out is because it’s a little bit hard, a little bit uncomfortable. Having some cool (read very expensive) new toys may well propagate an ”adventure” or two in the short term, but once the honeymoon period is over all that normally remains is remorse, bills and clutter.

The ZR7 is not ideal. But then I truly believe all bikes are a compromise, a little like sailboats. There is absolutely no reason I couldn’t do the CT run on the Kawa. No reason at all other than I fear the uncomfortable numbness!

This is a recurring thought pattern in my life, this justifying. Fortunately I’m at a stage where I finally realise the folly of this this pattern. It’s not the adventure bike I’m after but rather the adventure itself. And even then, sometimes I fear it’s not even the adventure that I’m after but rather just on escape from this miserably monotonous daily corporate grind.

The plan just can’t happen soon enough at this stage!

Mar 282016

We humans spend vast amounts of emotional energy analysing the past in order to plan, predict and attempt perfectly happy futures.

Our current society spends much of this energy focused on money, with the belief that; “money solves all.” A logical extension of this is the fear that a lack of money necessarily translates to misery.

While this may be somewhat true I have the sneaking suspicion that it’s not as perfectly true as we are all lead to believe.

On a personal level, history would indicate that I shouldn’t fear losing my job at all because I have never been without. On a collective, social level, history indicates just the opposite. Intellectually I know I’m possibly (in all likelihood) over-fearful and yet I find it difficult to just throw caution to the wind. The logical planner in me says I have the future covered. The fearful sheep in me is swayed by the Woolly Masses and fears that the dream isn’t possible for me, only for other braver souls.

Somewhere in the middle there is my reality.

In my current life-phase I find myself unhappy with my past life – that of preparing more for the future at the expense of living in the now. I’m determined to change that and yet, unconsciously, I still fear that I’m going overboard and jeopardising the future.

Our current burn rate is unsustainable. Even though we knew it was coming and we sort of planned and saved for it, it all happened under a very different frame of mind. That of the standard work until 65 and then hopefully have enough for FI.

With the new drive for FI and to live more for the present, the spend sometimes feels totally contrary to the desire for freedom. It’s that whole balance thing once again. Live for now but have something stashed away for tomorrow in case you are forced by circumstance to start over.

Part of this is my inner need for certainty. After all, my engineering mind demands precision, my project manager side, the perfectly planned and executed tomorrow. In a very real sense it’s who I am, part of my genetic makeup. On the flip side though it’s also a given that it’s partly the cause of my inability to find total peace and happiness in the imperfect now.

The theory postulated in “Wisdom of Insecurity” is that many of our problems originate because of our propensity to try and separate the logical “I” from the visceral “me”. Watts proposes that the two do not exist; it’s only your current experience that is you. Not sure I fully agree that’s all I am but I do agree that ”’I” seems to spend most of his time living everywhere but the now. The key to more contented happiness is to stop overriding the “me” in the present.

The “I” has ruled for too long. Time for “me” to move ‘Blue !

Mar 242016

There’s no turning back now, no matter the finances, no matter the job situation, no matter what.

I’m certainly of mixed opinion whether it’s the wisest thing, financially. But I’m convinced, lifestyle-wise, it’s a must.

What has eased the anxiety somewhat is an unexpected bonus payout. It doesn’t  cover it all but it’s about half and that makes things easier!

So, here we go ‘Blue. A new era is upon us!

'Blue rounding Fools Pt around March 2013

‘Blue rounding Fools Pt around March 2013

Feb 132016

I’ll admit to taking some strain being without my girls this last few weeks. It’s plain-and-simple loneliness.

One would think it best to get stuck into a project or something but my motivation levels have been rock-bottom.

As usual, when I feel this way, cabin fever has me pacing the shopping malls. I already know I’ ll find nothing of value to me there and yet I do it anyway.

At every window there is media depicting people living the good life. Happy, smiling, fit and tanned specimens all screaming how you too can have this good life….but you ‘ll need this action camera, this outfit, this expensive piece of tech gear to do so.

It’s all marketing BS.

You don’t buy the stuff to make you a surfer, a sailor, a runner. No. You get out there and you just surf/sail/run. You do the activity, you don’t accessorise. You’re a runner by virtue of the fact that you run, not because you wear some ridiculously expensive gadget.

Writers write. Sailors sail. Runners run.

Stop theorising about who you are and what you want,

Do it.