Dec 262016
 

South Africa at Christmas time is a dead-zone. Total shutdown. Zero interest. Things may revive during the first week of January but don’t count on it.

So what happens when the main pipe between the turbo and the intercooler gives out in the middle of the Karoo?

Getting a tow might not be impossible. Getting a replacement might take a bit of time.

Having a bit of ductape, a webbing strap and a little ingenuity…!? Well that will get you home 900km later.

Makeshift turbo repairs

Being self-sufficient isn’t always about the money. It’s about freedom. It’s about safety. It’s about personal satisfaction. It’s about keeping going when the rest of the woolly masses are either out of action, too expensive or incapable.

In the context of a roadside breakdown the world is pretty much organised to assist. For a fee. That same kind of breakdown at sea? Well you had better be able to fix it yourself or jury-rig a solution because nobody is coming to help you out there.

Not everything is fixable.

The more complex the systems the less likely it is that you will be able to fix them on your own. Tinkering and fixing also don’t just magically start the first time you have a breakdown. It’s a skill that requires nurturing, a muscle that must be exercised, a mental attitude that needs cultivation. As a result there is some value gained by living with your stuff, by getting to know it, by learning to fix it instead of scrapping it at the first sign of trouble.

Old cars are a pain. They break down. But after they breakdown in a certain fashion several times, as long as you have been paying attention, you learn how to fix them. Yes, perhaps it is easier to just buy a new one with a warrantee and a service plan. Perhaps. But that takes resources and time perhaps better spent on other endeavours?

The trick to all of this is having redundancy.

If the car breaks you want to have breathing space while you source the parts or find the most cost effective repair shop. A trusty motorcycle waiting in the wings allows mobility while all this is happening. Or a bicycle.

At sea, on the sailboat? Build redundancy into your systems. Keep everything as simple as possible. Know how to repair everything on board yourself. And I mean everything. Have a plan if the rudder breaks, if the hull springs a leak, if the mains’l tears straight through.

And in daily life, cultivate the ability to diagnose and repair by practice. Don’t delegate repairs to others by default and before you know how or what needs doing yourself. If you do that then at the very least you’ll know to keep the reapairman honest and above-board while forking over your hard-earned cash. Out at sea that habit just might save your life.

Take personal control of your finances, your tax returns, your life, everything you can. Reject the nanny-state and remain accountable to yourself. There’s power and freedom there.

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.

Aug 162015
 

I was browsing my ‘friends’ facebook page a while back and stumbled on this photo of George’s [name changed to protect another member of the Woolly Masses] new toys. If I quickly add that lot up – R1M for the vehicles and another R2-3M for the home. That’s huge, way more than I wish to finance and pay back. And that doesn’t include Wifey’s car, the kiddies education fund and normal daily living.

George's very expensive toys

George’s very expensive toys

Now, to be fair, George has been way more motivated than I to climb the corporate career ladder. At this stage of the game, while he’s probably around 10 years younger than I am, I’m guessing he earns at least R500k more a year than I do. But, and here’s the thing……just looking at this picture he’s living a very, very expensive lifestyle. Gut-feel …. he’s spending more than he can afford and will be on the corporate treadmill for the rest of his life.

I can hear you now .. “What an Asshole. Who does he think he is ranting on poor George? He owns a yacht, several cars, a house on the hill. Besides, he has no idea who George really is and how he’s managed to finance his life. He could be way off base!”

You know what, you’re right. I may very well be wrong about George. This I’ll concede. That said, I’m pretty certain that the scenario recounted above is not an unusual middle-class scenario. So yes, it may not be George, but is sure as heck 90% of all the working stiffs we see each day driving the hourly rush to the office and back.

So where am I going with this monologue you ask? Well I’ll enlighten you.

George has spent a huge amount of money on liabilities. Toys that may give him pleasure for sure, but ultimately all are detracting from living a life of freedom, both time and financial. With the money he’s spent on these, he could have invested the million and he would be earning R4k per month forever. Right now though, he’s just paying out money each month for the pleasure of ‘enjoying’ these machines – fuel, maintenance, licensing, insurance.

I’m in a very different space in life at the moment. That R4k a month would [and will] come in very handy thank you. It’s part of the plan to quit this unsatisfying consumer work-and-spend lifestyle. No more toys of that caliber or cost for me.

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m still buying toys, but my toys currently are all geared toward supporting my future and wished for lifestyle. They’re paid for in cash and provide utility….

Useful toys!

Useful toys!

Not as cool as two new bikes and a Prado you may say. Well, I hear you but I don’t care. My toys are useful, they don’t leave me paying off debt and can actually be put to use saving [and even making] me additional income!

Different focus in life, neither more right than the other. Neither is the one true way. But I can honestly say that I’m in a space in life where I’m happy with where I am and where I’m going. I hope that’s also true of George.

Jul 222015
 

Trade-in values: 1995 Alfa 145 – R50,000; 2002 BMW Z3 3.0l Roadster – R40,000

Against a brand new Fiat Panda 1.2

Those are the best values I’ll get for my two aging vehicles but suddenly the Panda is R10k more with paint and on-road fees and it’s R10k less than really needed for the BMW, which means suddenly what was an excellent deal – a new car for another R50k – has now become a R70k spend which doesn’t feel as good.

Right now they are all running. Right now there are other bills and education fees to pay. Right now spending another R70k just doesn’t feel right.

So, no matter how good the R90k trade for both vehicles is [indeed perhaps a never-to-be-repeated offer?] it’s just not money we’re going to spend on an other car right now.

Hope it’s a good decision :-/

And the lessons relearned – liabilities are yours forever! No matter how good the story, how great the sales pitch, they always think they smell blood in the water and, with a pretty, friendly smile, thrust the knife and give a twist for good measure. Be very, very careful what you commit resources to in life. Liabilities, once yours, remain yours forever…..unless you are willing to give them away. What was that about “You’re only as free as the stuff you’re able to walk away from”?

Jan 062015
 

Took a 4-hour drive to the Ficksburg area to visit family last weekend. Away from the farm house the countryside is peaceful and beautiful.

 

Rock Art

San / Bushman Rock Art under the sandstone overhangs

Several man-made fortifications along the ridge

Several man-made fortifications along the ridge

This wild-eyed hare cried like a baby while being saved from the dogs

This wild-eyed hare cried like a baby while being saved from the dogs

Feeding the orphans. This is one strong little cow.

Feeding the orphans. This is one strong little cow.

An old Toyota Hilux converted with tank and pump for crop spraying

An old Toyota Hilux converted with tank and pump for crop spraying

 

 

 

Nov 232014
 
Zee 3

Zee 3

Mid-life clarity or a stumbling block, a delay in the dream? Life is never that straight forward. If I apply that logic everywhere then I should sell up everything, Ocean Blue included, all in an attempt to fasttrack the dream. But what of today? Even by doing that, it’s not a question of a month or two. More like a year or two. And that’s a long time to live without the boat, a long time to live in sacrifice in preparation for living tomorrow?

Chatting to an old sailing acquaintance yesterday has once again emphasised the need to live well today. Not at the expense of tomorrow’s dreams but certainly with the understanding that life doesn’t always go as planned. He and his wife had the dream home in Glencairn but a stroke a while back left her unable to manage the stairs and so that dream is ended.

Chatting with S, we can’t risk that. The time is now! Live well and enjoy life today, make the transition to Glencairn sooner rather than later. I’d rather take the plunge and risk running out of money down the line that risk having never lived the life there due to sickness or death or unforeseen circumstance.

Looking at those in the world around me, lives snuffed out, dreams curtailed by illness ..!? No, that’s not a risk I’m willing to take at this stage of my life. It’s time to go while I still have some life in my bones!