FROM 2-14. Cape Town-Kerguelens

The other old fart..

Hi there its Pete

Yesterday I woke for the early morning watch at at 0300 UTC which is just after 6am local time. Scratched the sleep from the eyes then noticed something unusual out the back door, the sun was up. The sky was blue a few clouds about and the seas were calm. During his watch Alex had taken taken two reefs out of the main and had poled the full headsail out to port. The boat was ticking along beautifully at 4-5kts. with about 10-12kts. of breeze on the port quarter.

These rare conditions deserved some early refreshment, grabbed a couple of Guinnesses from the medicine chest, got the dogbowels out and half filled them with chips and then, see if Alex was interested. He was well into sleep, decided to leave him there and get out and enjoy the sunshine. Suitably satiated then dropped below to check the blog and came across “The Slough of Despond”. The first paragraph ended “the magnitude of the task ahead seems too unending, too frighteningly loaded against our weary decrepitude”. Well I thought you can count me out of the weary decrepit lineup this morning. I went back to the cockpit took the shirt off, fresh aired the armpits and felt the warm sun soak into my back.

I can fully understand Alex’s mood that night I’ve been through it many times before but to distract myself through these gut wrenching times I reflect on the good times, mostly things that happened when our children were young. I can remember on the last trip when we were in a storm off the bottom of Africa, we had been under bare poles for a couple of days, I was sitting on the floor legs braced against the opposite side to hold position as a procession of huge waves continually knocked the boat over and sideways down the wave. To distract my mind from the obvious I would recall time spent with the kids on a small farm up the mountain not far from Kiama south of Sydney. It all came back in full technicolour and at the end of it all I’d ask myself “what am I doing here”. That question has never been fully and honestly answered.

So lets get back to the children. Jeanne and I have four of these treasures, the eldest had a birthday just a week ago, he turned 32 and I was 32 when he was born. We arrived back at the CYC in Rushcutters Bay just 3 weeks before he was born having spent the past year sailing home from Greece via the Atlantic and Pacific Trade Wind highway, though it wasn’t a highway 32 years ago, that was well before satellite navigation. His birthday is in the first week of January which unfortunately clashes with the Sydney Hobart Race, there goes 13 of of his birthdays for which I was not around. I do remember I missed his 21st, 25th and 30th. This year at the towards the end of February, our eldest daughter turns 30 and at the end of March the youngest turns 25. I’ll make the last one but the the other looks in doubt.

Now that I’ve put this on paper it all looks decidedly slack, birthdays have become movable feasts and we have the alternative one when I’m around, but its not the same. I just thought of another thing, we were married on the 27th of October, I think (I used to remember this because it was the day the junta took control in Greece and we couldn’t marry on the 26th because of a public holiday, there used to be huge billboards everywhere celebrating this day when we were there). Unfortunately this always seemed to clash with with the Lord Howe Island Race, so as you can see none of this was my fault.

All of this reflection was probably prompted by a book given to read by Manuel whose house and family we stayed with in Cape Town. The book was “Patagonia and Tierra Del Fuego Nautical Guide” an impressive and weighty tome of a couple who have spent 7 years putting together this book which contains information and hand drawn charts of the hundreds of magic anchorages in the fiords of this area, a must for anyone wanting to spend time there. One part of the book I was interested in was about the culture of the local people, one thing that struck me was their belief that when you are young your time or life is a gift from your parent, life progresses your time is yours and then you reach a stage where your time is borrowed from your children. Its fairly profound when you think about it, I think I’m there now. I’ll leave you with that to reflect on. Cheers Pete.

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