Jun 302014

As I sit here writing this in my shed, a million miles from the ocean, I gaze longingly at the chart on the wall. The winter rain, gently pattering on the roof sounds, to me at least, a little like the swish of the bow-wave, a constant companion for 35 days on a voyage a lifetime ago.

A mere 70cm wide, that chart entitled “CAPE TOWN to RIO DE JANEIRO”, represents an unfathomably large ocean, a bygone challenge, a fast fading memory of a 3500nm voyage across the South Atlantic. I feel that memory fading, dying. It scares me. I want it refreshed.

Yes, I still do recall, at the end of that voyage how I swore off blue ocean sailing ever again. At the time it was an immensly strong conviction of “never again”! A small, miserably wet 30ft boat, an incompatible crew, a worried family back home and stress over the cost of 35 days of unpaid leave to deliver a South Atlantic race boat back to Cape Town. All these made the voyage of a lifetime seem less than ideal, certainly not something worth repeating. So I thought at the time.

That was 8 years ago. Now, as I wear the “been-there-done-that” T-Shirt, looking at the expanse of ocean represented by the chart, I have but one burning desire! To do it again! And I have to ask “Why?”

Sailing is not just something I’ve tried or do every now and again. It’s an integral part of my life, more than that, a compulsion, an addiction. I cannot get it out of my system. Cannot, no matter what, swear off the feel of a hard-pressed yacht on a beat in a 20kt breeze.

As I reflect on that long-ago voyage, there are certainly some things that spring to mind that I wouldn’t wish to repeat. Indeed, will not repeat.

* A small, wet 30ft Royal Cape One Design (RCOD) is not the boat to have a comforatble crossing on.
* An unknown, never-sailed-before, crew is certainly no better than doing the crossing single-handed.
* One needs time, time away from the pressing urgency of modern corporate life.
* The boat needs self steering, needs to be dry, needs a light on the compass, needs to carry enough water in proper tanks plumbed into the galley.

And so, as I sit here listening to the fading rain of a Highveld winter, I am resolved to once again, to give it another go. To take the Miura “Ocean Blue”, an infinitely bertter boat for the trip than an RCOD, back to her spiritual home in the waters of the South Atlantic, back to sea.

Will I once again cross the South Atlantic, to St Helena and Brasil? I can’t say for sure. But the need, the burning desire to return Ocean Blue to the False Bay waters of the South Atlantic, there where she belongs, burns deep and strong in my soul.

At the very least, Ocean Blue’s hull will once again feel the salty waters of False Bay. And who knows? Maybe another South Atlantic crossing is in her (and my) future.

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