I’ll admit I’m struggling to adapt to these Cape Town winters. Winter number two is heavily upon us and they tell me this is “a more normal winter” than the one I experienced last year – rainy, cold, windy and … dark!
Having lived the previous four decades on the Highveld this, I find, is requiring some adjustment. Back in Jo’burg the winters, while they can be colder than here in Cape Town, are generally filled with sunshine and no rain. Going out in the dark of morning, returning in the dark of evening, slogging day in, day out on the hamster-wheel of normal life, it’s that I find that begins to wear me down a little. Or perhaps a lot.
The real positive about the relocation is that I’m close to the boat, able to easily visit virtually every day. This makes it a doddle to check the lines after that last vicious front, plug away at improvement projects and even contemplate the odd late-afternoon sail after work.
Not that much sailing has been done lately. The weather has settled deeply into winter mode, the north westerlies continuously battering the coast with high winds, cloud and rain. The southern ocean, not to be outdone, regularly sends it’s depressing lows further north this time of the year and consequently the southerly swell makes it’s presence well known. The odd gap in the lows raging up against the coast seem to be windless, cold, grey and foggy, putting a damper on any real thoughts of taking the boat off the mooring.
It’s a good time of the year to take a break from the boat, the water, the dream. A good time to hunker down and do something else.
So we head off on a road trip to Hermanus where I find myself eyeing out the ocean from land, wondering how ‘Blue might feel in those monstrous swells. We check out the harbour in Gansbaai and I find myself planning an entry and docking in a difficult working harbour, a plan-B if it ever becomes necessary.
Back in the warm and dry of home I find myself constantly returning to the You-Tube channels of people doing exactly what I dream of – Free Range Sailing, White Spot Pirates, The Old Sea Dog, sv Delos, RAN Sailing, Paragon and more. On the one hand they inspire. On the other, all they serve to do is instigate feelings of discontent at my inability to break free of dirt-dwellers.
These ‘Tubers do raise the very real question of; “Why don’t I set sail?” After all, none of them are superheros or Gods. It’s not that once out there I won’t make a plan to handle things. At very least the 2006 crossing from Salvador back to South Africa has taught me this . I have a capable sailboat. I have the proof that I don’t fold under the pressure of a leak eight days out of Cape Town. I can manage the pain of the mal de mer.
For me it’s the actual going that is the problem. It means I have to leap in, both feet, no return, no life raft. The shackles that bind me to land, to family, to pets, to feelings of responsibility are still too strong. Even scarier still are the shackles that bind me to the future. What will tomorrow hold, ten years down the line with no income, a looted pension and a dwindling pot of cash? I know that I can’t control any of this, I know I shouldn’t be concerned about any of this, and yet still I fear. I fear not just for my future self but also for those close to me. I know that by quitting the cubicle hell in Jo’Burg I rolled the die and cast my fate to the wind and yet I still cling to the perceived security of the current income, however temporary, however insecure. It makes no sense! And yet I still do.
“Its far better when doing good work is sufficient. In other words, the less attached to outcomes we are the better. When fulfilling our own standards is what fills us with pride and self-respect. When the effort – not the results, good or bad – is enough.” – Ryan Holiday
As cliched as it sounds, I do really think it is about the journey. ‘Blue and I may never follow in the footsteps of all those beautiful You-Tubers who are all living perfect trade-wind lives and never have any shit to deal with. We may never ever leave the dock, resulting in the world calling us abject failures. But the one thing I do know for sure – ‘Blue is my happy space, not all the time, but most of the time. I do honestly complain about the ongoing work, the maintenance, the sea-sickness, the mishaps. But overall the good days with ‘Blue far outnumber the bad, whether they be magic sunset sailing out on the bay or whether they be projects on board, maintaining, improving.
Of everything, the thing that has me withdrawing most is the sea-sickness. That really is miserable! Yes, I know; the majority of people who go to sea get sick. It doesn’t change the fact that it isn’t pleasant. It happened after the Saldanha cruise, the Hout Bay attempt, and on numerous Robben Island roundings. Each of these times the misery of the mal de mer drove me from the boat for weeks.
“Every thing worthwhile in life is won through surmounting the associated negative experience.” – Mark Manson
And perhaps that is why I keep returning? For each time, after sufficient but short time has passed, I find myself pining for the boat, pining to be afloat again. Perhaps this dream is worthwhile after all? Perhaps, deep down, I have a subconscious agreement with Mr Manson!
I don’t know if I’ll ever permanently leave the dock. And it actually doesn’t matter! All I know is I’ll be happy living with the boat every day, no matter what. It really is about the process and not the end goal.