Jul 022016
 

I woke up this morning to find all the posts & pages on NWM missing and IS totally dead.

Mmmmm!?

I’ve never made any backups and never been too concerned because, well, this is a personal project which, while visible to the world, remains [I believe] unread and unmissed should it disappear.

Except that’s not true. As soon as it was gone I missed it.

Luckily it’s back after a few database “repairs” and a re-coding of the WP-login code on IS to recreate a user name and password.

Needless to say, I’m waiting for a backup to download to local storage while I type this.

Jul 172014
 

Winter is a difficult time! Watching the sun set below the western Johannesburg skyline as early as 17h30, waking to a cold darkness that only begins to feel the light of dawn by around 06h30 makes it hard to feel that life in the cubicle is not sucking all that is good.

I’m playing secretary and delivery driver much of the time on this current project. Organising ahead to ensure people are there to deliver to often has them saying to me “Anytime, I’m there from 6am” or “Of course yes, I’m working late tonight, here until 9pm“. The scary thing is that these are not isolated long work days for these people. This is the norm in the project/engineering industry. The comments are normally made in such a way as to garner firstly, a little sympathy, but secondly and most importantly, they seem to demand some kind of respect. It’s as if all this ongoing effort and 80hr work-weeks are somehow a badge of honour, an indication of their commitment to their career, their team, their corporate masters.

I don’t bother to reply at all to such nonsense anymore. Inwardly I just give a wry smile and plan to live my life as best I can while still in this cubicle hell. That means 40hr weeks, max, for this slave. Don’t expect me to deliver your documents by 6am on a cold winter’s morning. I have better things to do, a life to be lived, some better kind of balance to be struck.

Even though I pretty much have managed to achieve this particular form of balance in the last ten years it’s just not enough anymore. The pressures of even this 40hr work week and life in “the world class shitty” have worn me down. The last 2 weeks have been grim, filled with a myriad of obstacles and challenges to the good life, darker and colder than the depths of an arctic winter.

As a sailor there is one thing I am sure of. Storms will blow at the most inconvenient of times. They will test you to your limits, threaten the safety of the boat, take you to the edge of sanity. But then they are gone, the wind and waves calm and the feeling of satisfaction one feels having managed the yacht through the roughest of patches is a rare and awesome reward to one’s soul.

So too must this current rough patch, this life-storm come to an end.

Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer by this sun of York !”

Lets hope Shakespeare was right.

Jul 142014
 

It’s hard sometimes to not fall for the “compare yourself to the world” yardstick. It’s hard to ride through the kind of sustained universal wobbly that we’ve had the last 2 weeks.

When I look at a peer, someone who basically started out same time as myself, who has amassed a rental portfolio of 10 properties already, its hard to think that I haven’t but one and even that is on the verge of closure.

I mean, how can he be so “successful” in that arena while I struggle so much?

I’m reminded of the need to not compare oneself to another, especially when there is no real understanding of all the factors that make up the person’s life. The rental portfolio is but one aspect of life, an isolated feature that doesn’t make any sense out of context with the rest of that person’s stuff. In addition, how much freedom has this person given up? How much debt is there lurking in the background?

The expensive life-style, private schools etc. The bigger the burn, the more income is necessary. The corporate politicking, the daily grind, travel away from home etc etc. Do I want that in my life?

Right here, right now – A well lit, cosy home. Food in my belly. Enough financial buffer to know I’m OK even if we should choose not to chase more.

That’s key. How much is enough? Time to branch out and live life differently. Time to live, rather than work. Time to throw caution to the wind and take a calculated step toward a future we both keenly desire.

You can never tell anything from the man’s car, his outward visible-to-the-world lifestyle. The only thing you can tell from these is how much he spends. And even then you cannot tell whether he’s spending his own money or is up to his eyeballs in life-sucking debt.

No matter what our status in life, no matter what our financial worth, we all have been allocated a finite amount of time on this planet. Time that once gone we never get back, no matter how much cash we have in the bank. So when he’s at the office every day until 7pm, in Europe on business for 2 weeks at a time, I’ll still prefer being home to watch the sun set, spending my weekends on the yacht, working toward the plan, even if my plan is much more modest than his.

Is he happier than I? Don’t know. Don’t actually care.

What has he achieved? Nothing that grabs my heartstrings. What does he do and experience in the world that doesn’t take wealth and spending? Nothing that I can see.

So besides that, maybe his rental investment strategy bears study. Not because he is the best, but certainly because he seems to be functioning better in this specific arena than I am (and because I feel the need to diversify our income streams for ER)

I’ll be keeping the current cars, even if they require time and money. Until the spreadsheet proves otherwise it’s cheaper to repair and maintain than buy again (and it’s really greener as well)

Jun 142014
 

For a while now I’ve been trying to convert a planned overnight cruise into reality. Three weeks have slipped by, circumstance dictating changes to the plan. It’s not that I haven’t visited the yacht over the last three weeks, it’s just that time has not allowed for an overnighter.

Roll on this weekend, time for the planned cruise.

As is usual, I’ve been trawling WindFinder and WindGuru to forecast the best spot to anchor. They both agree. We’re in for robust W’ly to SW’ly winds this weekend as a minor front sweeps through from down south.

_forecast

The forecast doesn’t look too bad for an overnight anchorage, but chances are we’ll get more than the predicted 6-10kts overnight. That calls for an anchorage well protected from the W through to the SW. Bunny Brook looks like the best option and I’ll be putting down 2 anchors tonight!

There’s always a part of me, a part of every human I guess, that looks at the 25kt+ forecast and thinks “Let’s give this weekend a miss, that looks like cold, hard work”. Sitting here in my cosy, under-floor heated kitchen that won’t drag the anchor tonight, that won’t battle the rising frontal winds as they sweep through, I’m battling a mental block that says “Call it off, it’ll be a struggle”.

Can I handle the conditions? Yes, I think so. Can the boat? No question. Yes, it’s a little harder in restricted waters than out in the wide-open ocean. If things get out of hand, you can’t just drop sail, bang closed the hatch and sleep it out. You need to be on your toes, deal with the issues, get out of the rocky shallows. Yes, I am concerned about my anchoring [still] with this Miura. I haven’t had much joy to date. So, this will be an active sailing weekend for sure.

Thing is, if I can’t get over this mental hurdle, if I can’t deal with the wind, the anchor, the sailing on the Vaal, then I’m wasting my time with the dream. If I give up on this weekend for the fear of some hardship, then I should certainly just sell up now, cash out of yachting and not waste any further time, money and effort on moving OB back ‘home’ to Simon’s Town.

I’m fond of telling people “There’s no such thing as bad weather, it’s only bad clothing”. Now’s the weekend to prove myself a doer rather than a dreamer. The yacht is prepared and able, the cold-weather clothing is there. It’s just the skipper that needs to step up.

_BunnyBrook I think, for this time of the year, with this front, we’ll have some wind during the night. Forecast says 6, gusting 10, but that could easily be a couple of points higher. Bunnybrook has always been a good anchorage and with the forecast looks to be secure for an overnighter. Plan tonight is to set the CQR in about 5-6m with plenty of dragging room to the east. Then, I’ll be taking the dusty Danforth out of storage and rowing that out slightly SW of the main anchor. If that doesn’t hold us overnight then it may really be time to cash in the sailing chips?

By now I guess you would have concluded [and rightly so] that it’s not so much the boat handling, the larger-than-normal winds, the sailing, that has me in this mental place. It’ the nagging uncertainty that I’ve forgotten how to anchor, to stay put overnight. All I know for sure is, the all-chain, CQR route has not worked for this boat since I came into her life. Tonight it’s “try something else” or why would you expect anything different?

Lest I fill myself with regret, I’m packing up and heading out. Hope I get back to give an update here.

—ooOOoo—

The awesomeness that was sailing this weekend defies description. Beautiful and steady 18-20kt breezes on Saturday dealt up a 16nm sail around the island, finishing up in Bunnybrook at around 16h00

OB Sailing 15-20kt

The boat performed flawlessly, averaging 5kt and topping out at 7, all with a reef in the main and the corresponding rolls in the genny. Speechless.

But, no weekend on the water is without it’s challenges. Only this time, they came from very unexpected quarters. Besides the usual cuts and abrasions that seem to appear on the sailors fingers and hands without explanation, two incidents from unexpected quarters …..

As we were rounding the north of the Island, close-hauled, a big puff had the autohelm working hard to correct. Suddenly, bam, the attachment to the tiller sheared off. Nothing but hand-steering from this point on.

Second incident occured the next morning as we were weighing anchor for the return voyage. As promised, I’d set two anchors but still had a restless night, up every two hours to check on position and weather. Up just before dawn, the morning cuppa down, I hoisted the main and then hauled in the CQR and 30m of chain. Then I discovered my error, the boat now sailing downwind, snagged on the Danforth trailing somewhere astern. Try as I might, I couldn’t get the boat turned head to wind and so, in a last ditch attempt to avoid disaster, I quickly transferred the rode to the stern and winched the boat back to the anchor using the cockpit winches.

This time the wind was light enough to let me get away with it!

Note to self: When next setting 2 anchors, haul the first in before setting the main.

Second note to self: get over this ‘use the CQR’ thing. The Danforth is the way to go!

—ooOOoo—

There are a lot of life-lessons to be learned from sailing. All the planning and goal-setting for the future, all the concern [worry] about what might go wrong often has us hesitant to strike out on the path. That’s a big mistake. The rewards of the journey are fantastic and the problems that crop up are never the one’s you’ve prepared for or have concerned yourself about. The challenges always crop up from the least expected quarters. No. Live your life in confidence, live it with enough buffer and capacity to deal with the issues that will crop up, but never not live it !!

100_1656_2

Jun 032014
 

We’ve had some policies mature recently. R250k after a good 20yrs of stashing away.

Was it a good investment? I don’t know!?

At this stage, I actually don’t care. No matter what the returns, it’s R250k we wouldn’t have had, had we not stashed away the stash each month.

I find that’s the challenge of a lot of people I talk with. There seems to be the belief that the small amount saved each month is not worth it, that we’re all fighting a loosing battle. The standard belief is that, in the future, R250k is worth nothing, so why bother? Lets spend it all on braais, fishing and rum&coke today.

So I’ve signed up for some RA’s for both the kids some years back. It’s miniscule, R150 p.m. But, if they keep them going, that’s hopefully worth R3M each after 50 yrs of virtually no monthly stress [because let’s be serious, R150 pm in 2014 is doable even by my son who has no income other than pocket money]. So, sure, R3M in 50yrs may be worth not much, but at least it’s still R3M more than you would have had.

So, if you want to delude yourself that R150 p.m. is not worth the effort then be my guest !

Me? I prefer to cash my R250k into the bond today, no matter whether it was a sound investment [analytic’s wise]. At least the total debt is now under 1 Bar again and moving in the right direction. If I’d taken the mental stance that the money is worth nothing in the future I wouldn’t be in this position.

So, I suggest – keep saving away, no matter how small. Use the magic that is compound interest. Your future self will thank you!

May 162014
 

lanciabetavx

Owner not willing to negotiate on price. Adamant that the car is worth the R58k asking price. It’s beautifully kept for sure, pristine actually for an ’83 model, but a little more than I’m willing to spend on a 30+ year old car. Will have to move on.

Crisis averted, thanks to the strange way things are in the universe.

—-

True to form I can’t ever let things go. Took B and the alfa past for a closer look. Poking around under the bonnet and I find pools of oil on the inlet manifold. The seller is convinced it’s not serious, a ‘small’ problem easily resolved. I, on the other hand don’t know enough to agree with him. I’m cured. I don’t need another leaky car in the driveway. One is enough.

OK. Crisis is now averted!

—-

R58k – That’s enough to live off for 3-4 months on an ER budget of 15-20k pm. That’s 3 to 4 months of total freedom, not even considering the future investment growth on the money [R191k over 10yrs].

That begs the question “How serious are you about stepping off?” Where’s the balance between building the stash for the future and living life today? The answer to that question lies in a full understanding of what it means to you personally to ‘live life today’. Simple answer for us is – sailing and Glencairn. Anything that big a spend outside those two arenas is suspect and probably frivolous.

If I know this then why do I go window shopping and get that close to derailing the plan so often?

—-

Apr 172014
 

It’s been excellent catching up with old friends and colleagues since starting the new gig. Great that, in spite of the Crusty Introvert Me, there has been an overwhelming “Welcome! Good to Have you back“. [Sort of cements the no-Woolley Masses approach to life doesn’t it?]

It’s hard to hide where my head is at with the ER-Dream [firstly I’m totally and passionately committed and secondly I’m putting myself out there to give myself some form of ‘public accountability’ to strengthen my resolve and ability to carry through with this] and so this has come up in several of the discussions quite easily and naturally because the obvious question is “Why are you back?

The answer is easy. “Because the stash needs to grow a little bigger“. But it always leads to [perhaps only internal and unvoiced] thoughts such as “Life is so expensive and out of control there will never be enough so why even try” or “What’s the point? I need more than I can ever hope to stash away so I might as well not stash anything” or “There’s no point in planning because nothing ever works out as planned” etc.

It’s abundantly obvious the grip this modern consumer lifestyle has on us all. I’m no exception. I like my luxuries and toys and continually strive to balance saving for tomorrow with enjoying my material wealth today. Just like the rest of the flock. I’ve been there myself, buying the BMW as a “reward” for the hard work and long hours, so I’d be a little hypocritical in judging anyone too harshly for doing the same. But, the bottom line is that this “spoiling” yourself today has very real consequences and impacts your ability to step off in the future should you want to. No doubts in my mind that had I taken my brother’s unsolicited but well-intended advice to heart back in my early twenties and ploughed every cent I ever spent on cars into building the stash, then my ER-Date would probably already have happened.

This is not about regrets or unhappiness at life in the present. It’s just fact. The past cannot be changed and the future is always there, in the future. Life is good today and the ER-Dream is a powerful and common goal for me and S, something we earnestly want and are willing to sacrifice for. Is there a little bit of regret about past decisions? Perhaps ‘Yes’ if I’m totally honest. but certainly not misery and unhappiness. It’s more just a quiet acknowledgement of the impact of past actions on the present reality. And I think that important in steering the present toward the desired future. After all, those who repeat the ‘mistakes’ of the past are doomed to re-live the same-old same-old in the future. Will the future turn out exactly as we hope, dream and plan for? Can’t say. Will we be happy in that future? Definitely and with certainty because happiness is a conscious choice determined neither by wealth, nor poverty nor circumstance.

And that is what I find so sad in many of the people around me, this belief that there is no use in planning for the future, no use in stashing away R150 rather than blowing it on some piece of cheap Chinese plastic. The unconscious negativity that silently and unknowingly limits a person’s quality of life today and into the future is so obvious in the comment “But R5.8M in 50 years time is worth nothing so why bother”.

I know I probably come across as judgemental but that’s the last thing I want to be. It’s not my business to change others nor give unsolicited advice. But, it is my business to fully understand myself and what makes me tick. Rehashing and journalling my impressions and thoughts on these interactions with people allows me to explore and understand myself better. We are all where we are today because of our decisions and actions taken in the past. Our future is predominantly created by our habits and actions taken in the present. So, unless we understand our past and how we got to our present, there is no sound reason to believe that we will be any different in our future.

I’m no “New Agey, positive thinking solves all” kind of person. Sure, you need the right attitude. But positive thoughts sitting on the couch with your hand in the potato chip packet are just not going to cut it. Positive thought requires positive action and any kind of improvement or change means hard work, pushing through the barriers of discomfort, pain and uncertainty and staying in the game long enough to eventually win.

No, I don’t know with any certainty what the end score will be. What I do know is that we will step off this treadmill a good decade or so earlier than the working masses not because we’re any better than them but because we’re totally committed to the additional freedom it will bring and are willing to make the sacrifices needed today to make that future happen.

Apr 022014
 

So today was the first day of the new job. I had high hopes of a wonderful experience where everything was ready and waiting for me, desk, laptop, fuel card …….

Yeah, ok. So I remain naive and stupid !

I’ve been allocated a filthy-looking desk right on the corridor entrance by the printer, in an open plan area. Lovely. There are no key’s for the drawers [which by the way are still filled with someone’s stuff] and the setting was just so awful I immediately suggested, and did, move to a smaller off-aisle hot-seat [but which has no phone].

Anyway, whining aside, it was definitely ‘just another day in the office”, certainly not an exciting experience. The people you speak to seem to expect you to say “Wow. Awesome. What an exciting new beginning!”. They really, really do.! Strange beings these sheep.

Today got me thinking that the question that has to be asked by others is “Wow, he certainly seems to be going backwards in his career doesn’t he?” [well OK maybe it’s only occurred to me]. After all, many of the people who once worked under me in this organisation are now higher up the hierarchy than I am today.

The thing that directly and subversively supports this point of view is the modern corporate ‘Secrecy Act’ which compels each and every employee to jealously guard their financial deal with the organisation. Inside the corporate, without knowing what the other sheep earn, it’s impossible for the flock to judge each other’s progress other than to look at their position on the ladder. In a similar fashion, the world outside the job looks to things like spending on houses, cars and lifestyle to make an assessment on earnings. Both views are totally flawed.

I’m working on the tail-end of this career, this job, for the sole purpose of increasing the stash as fast and as soon as possible. We’ve pretty much determined what ‘enough’ is and when we hit that level of savings it wil be “Adios Amigos”. The salary that I’m earning is way higher than it would have been had I stayed and climbed the ladder. Before I left I was earning well and the company move, coupled with a good 14% increase in 2014, means I’m way ahead of the current pack, even with their promotions. There’s no guarantee that 2015 will be anything as rosy but that’s so far in the future as to be a non-issue at the moment.

So yes it’s definitely more of the same. But with a more concrete, finite time-frame plan that is keenly desired by both of us. I just have to suck this up for another 5 years or so, keep the spend down and the savings injection up and we’re in with a fighting chance. That knowledge on it’s own is a great motivator.

It’s the last push to more freedom. So bring on the new beginnings !!

 

Mar 162014
 

“Billionaires share advice”
“Liveaboards become experts”
“Extremists like Riaan Manser are touted as hero’s”

why?

They, in their areas of extremism, speak to parts of us that aspire to that – money success, sailing lifestyle, adventure.

Elon Musk – RSA boytjie – Paypal, Tesla etc
“Musk has described himself as a workaholic who routinely invests [works] 100 hours per week running Tesla Motors and SpaceX ”
” Musk met his first wife………announced their separation in September 2008. ………. recently ended a four-year relationship with his second wife  ”

Sound’s like he is really successful on all fronts!!

When the Wooly Masses say “Success” they really mean only mean “Money” !