Four Year Report, the Captain

Four years ago I was full of anticipation, excitement and no doubt, fear. I was about to leave my lifelong home and venture to parts unknown. I had dreamed of this voyage for decades and it was finally all coming together. I was haunted by the “what ifs” as lists of possible disasters crossed my mind. Not only the physical dilemmas crossed my mind as thoughts of can I do this?, how will I cope ? and will I blow it? danced on my head.

Fortunately these days had no idle time so my future doubts took a second seat to the present challenges; end life as I know it, get the boat ready, plan the voyage took all my time and energy. Long lists were constantly produced and checked off, last minute projects initiated and completed. These were heady times for sure.

Now four years and thousands of miles later, I still have lists but keep them manageable, I still have doubts but very few, and I still love this life. The cruising life brings things down to a basic level, uncomplicated yet vastly challenging. I am pleased to say I have become a much better mechanic and problem solver than I was four years ago, this is just a matter of survival. I get angry but for much shorter times and frequency, I worry but not much about things “I cannot change”.

We spent this year all in familiar places, well covered in past blogs. This year was spotted with rare jewels of extreme pleasure found in the simplest places. It was a year of small spenders not monumental ones, the invitation to the Indonesian wedding where we were the only foreigners, the visits to the small villages, making balloons for the children all made this year a personal high.

Year four started with arriving back in Thailand. I found old friends and made some new ones. My interest in Buddhism flourished with many trips to the Temples, often with good friends. I partook in several big yachting events and small celebrations. I cherish the night I joined three spandex miniskirt, stacked heel wearing bar girls in setting small candle lit boats adrift for Thai New Year.

The voyage back to Indonesia had some personal impact, seeing good friends, one for the last time. I experienced loss suddenly when my good friend Steve passed away. I was so glad we spent some time together as we passed south. Another intrepid sailor left us this year, Alex , from Bubbles with whom I crossed the Pacific. These losses reminded me I belong to a very small fraternity of world voyagers who have become my extended family.

Speaking of family, I was so happy to spend time again with the Totem crew, Nialls joined us for a short passage and we enjoyed Bali and Gili Air together. My guitar pickin Indo friend, Agu, dubbed them the “Happy Family” a handle that has stuck. I simply love these kids, I have watched them grow for four years with great joy.

And then there are the local kids, I have written so much about the children of Indonesia but words just do not do the trick. When we visit the small villages and experience the sublime peace in those big brown eyes and beaming smiles I am always moved to the core. I said once if you could bottle that smile in pill form you could drive Prosak out of business. My late friend Steve had given me an old “beach guitar” to play at our bbq’s. I gave the guitar to the school at the Komodo Village in his name. We revisited the village a month later and as soon as we got to the school the guitar was brought out and I sang, “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” for the kids, I know Steve was laughing from a cloud at the sight.

Music has become my second language, good thing because I suck at learning foreign languages. This year I rejoined friends in Thailand, Lavina, Gili Air and Labuan Bajo. I jammed with the local pickers every chance I got. I have overcome my fears of singing and am actually taking the lead vocalist role often. I do admit to compensating for lack of talent with some goofy showmanship, dancing on the bar.

The new joy this year came from meeting the students at the Stella Maris Maritime Academy. I saw the kids at the Independence day celebration and we instantly connected. In the following weeks I took most of them out on Furthur and taught several classes. Seeing the kids so eager to learn anything they can about the sea was extremely rewarding. What the school lacks in resources it more than makes up for in enthusiasm.

The crew situation has been a great source of joy and some frustration. I had a few leave that I really liked, citing lack of personal space and freedom, understandable. I had a few that did not fit and I was glad when they left, mostly personality clashes. Mostly I had notable crew who stayed full term, left sadly and will hopefully return. This year I found the long term crew I had hoped for, Sam, who has been on the boat over six months. We have grown into a tight team and I rely on her heavily, never being disappointed. Furthur is her boat, she takes charge and gets the crew working, and most of all she is great fun.

I am looking to the next year as a slower year of travel, the long passages and huge amount of time at sea have taken their toll on both me and the boat, we both need a rest. I plan on staying in Phuket for and extended time this next year. At least that is the plan, it may change as the wind changes and the yearn to explore takes over again.