Jun 172017

“They’re thinking of selling their Astove 31,” a friend tells me.

“What’s the plan?” I reply.

“Thinking to maybe one day head offshore” he muses.

“What’s wrong with the Astove?” I wonder.

Same thing holds true for dual-purpose motorcycles. If you don’t have at least 1000cc underneath you then you can’t possibly tour the remote places of the planet.

4×4? Same thing! Have to get all the gear before you can think of going outside the parking lot.

In my opinion, bigger isn’t always better or even necessary.

That’s why I’m happy with my 30’Miura [and we will cruise offshore one day], my tiny X-300 [yes we will adventure far and wide and on the dirt] and my aging Isuzu 4×4 [perhaps we might even head off-road one day].

The irony though; I cannot possibly have enough time in my current life to use all these properly. Even by going small I’ve crossed some paradoxical line.

Perhaps going nothing at all would have been better under the current circumstances?.

Certainly – bigger is not always better. Sometimes though even smaller isn’t better. Sometimes total abstinence is the only logical path.

Why is that so hard?

Feb 232017

I suddenly realise why it is I keep going back to Art of Hookie – it’s for the reminder that jumping off and “living the dream” is a perilous undertaking.

Here is some random dude, supposedly broke, who talks big but, in reality, is struggling with life in general. Just like everyone is. Perhaps more than most is the impression? And yet, he is doggedly pursuing his version of the dream, no appologies, no excuses. That’s inspiring.

It’s a constant reminder to me that it is possible to live a non-mainstream life. Its a reminder to throw yourself at your dreams. It’s also a reminder that if the safety net is not strong (especially the financial one & the health one) life can get pretty miserable, pretty fast.

It’s hard to feel that things aren’t coming to a head at the Big S. What with the old project wounds still fresh and new project politics looming. I’m making ‘friends‘ enemies throughout the global organisation now. Not just locally. Not that I particularly care but, it is unpleasant! And to cap it all I didn’t sleep well. Food poisoning? Stress? Either way, not happy.

The power has been out since shortly after midnight. I write these words to the hissing of my Camping Gaz light. Coffee courtesy of the matching stove. The day ahead is most likely to be filled with friction. Unhappiness over the schedule. Anger about the order cancellation………

I think of the boat, of the Freedom Fund. I’m glad for the upcoming long weekend, a chance to escape for a short while. A chance to clear my thoughts, to potter away on the little tubby yacht that seems to be the only place I’m truly content.

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!

Nov 182016

So that was a very rough sail yesterday. And it wasn’t nearly all the ocean could have thrown at us.

The 10-15kt forecast proved to be a joke. It started off well enough but then, as we tried to head toward Sea Point, we stalled, totally stalled in the wind shadow of The Mountain. At that point we thought it better to head back toward Milnerton and the wind we could see over there. Good choice if it was wind we wanted because soon we had a steady 25-30kt screaming in at us.

There’s no real panic when you’ve got space and time and with the boat hove to, or sort of, we tucked a reef in the main and rolled even more of the genny away. Even so, this was certainly life on the lean, wild and wet as we beat back toward Milnerton light.

The point I’m trying to make is, that even though it was fun with a full crew and many hands, it was damn hard work. On reflection it really has me asking again “Is this really what I want to do?” This is no Vaal Dam cruising here, it’s real, it’s hard, it’s potentially life threatening if things go wrong.

We nailed the docking, even in the breeze.

A strange mix of emotions I guess. There’s a real sense of satisfaction and achievement in handling the boat well, in dealing with the elements and getting where you wish to go. The flip side – things can go wrong in a hurry and you need to be prepared. The damage we sustained was minor and didn’t really require anything other than cranking up the reefing line to reset the sail as best we could. At the back of my mind though is always the scenario planning, always the PM paranoia of what next and what will we do then? That’s why you hoist the main in the harbour, why you only take it down when you’re back in.

And the point of this? I don’t really know. If the boat is well prepared, if the crew understand what could go wrong and have half a plan to deal with things, well, there’s no reason not to venture forth. There’s no way that you can foresee every little thing, and to tell the truth, no way you’d want to because what a boring life that would be.

So, right now I’m somewhat ambivalent. I’m not scared off by any means but I reckon, as C also said, “Don’t think S would have had much fun yesterday”. C and B seemed to relish the fresh conditions. R not so much and perhaps G neither. I would have battled on my own, seriously battled. I don’t think my autohelm is up to the conditions here and I honestly cannot see it coping. I haven’t tried it yet but just looking at the physical, ongoing challenge it is helming here and I have to wonder. That makes running the boat alone much more of a challenge. It’s not that it couldn’t be done. Heck, there are solo sailors all over the world. But, one’s level of preparedness needs to be that much greater.

Mmmm.Yes. What do I want from life? An easy comfortable time or wild and wet challenge?

Oct 092016

It’s been a while since the end of August when I packed up the boat and left in a little bit of a depressive huff [see “No more boats for me“].  In the intervening while there have been a few visits to check on the bilges and make sure the lines are still all intact but mostly by the girls rather than myself.

The time away has been good in a sense. The old cliche “a change is as good as a holiday” definitely rings true here.

A beautiful sunny Cape Town day

A beautiful sunny Cape Town day

The girls paid another visit today and report all is well. The fact that the bilges are mostly dry means that the remaining leaks around the P-Strut and the raw water intake are well under control. Not that they don’t need to eventually be addressed but at least, for now, can be ignored.

I have this sense that life inland is coming to a end. With each passing week, each dismal day in the traffic, each non-sensical corporate stress filled day, I find myself dreaming of far off tropical islands were the weather is warm, the water crystal clear and life holds different challenges. The challenges of life here in Johannesburg continue unabated and while I’ve been ready to chuck it all in for a while now, I sense that Sandy is ever closer as well [a very good thing in my book].

I’ve recently had this heightened sense of living in a world gone crazy, a world where being ‘politically correct’ trumps all, where the rights of a few radicals trump the rights of the moderate majority, where those you thought were friends turn out to be paranoid psychotics. It’s all just driven home to me how important the boat really is in my life.

The break has been good but, I’m happy to admit, the dream still burns ever so brightly. My sweet little Miura still tugs gently at her lines, impatiently calling, impatiently waiting the day when I finally drum up the courage to turn my back on life here in Jo’burg, to turn off the taps of corporate income and turn  my dreams westward and south, down to the stormy confluence of the Indian and Atlantic oceans.

Never fear ‘Blue! Recent events push me ever closer to that day, closer to casting off from the world that calls itself ‘real‘ and yet conceals the actual real life in politics, paranoia, stress, egos and rampant fear of the future.

It shall be soon! Perhaps very soon, because something in our current lives just changed!