…and the years do condemn.
My crew are truly excellent travelling companions and competent crew. Jochen is thoughtful, considerate, assiduous and very funny. Melanie cooks well in any weather, is quite at ease on deck when it is rough and, when I don’t offend her by telling her the obvious, is quiet but very companionable. They discuss me in French when they want to be critical. They should really be driving their own yachts. As an ageing skipper it gives me much pleasure to watch them reef, set up spinnaker poles, launch dinghies, check my waypoints and do all the heavy work with almost no advice or correction from me in the cockpit. I am getting old and my rotator cuffs are so grateful, as am I.
I had been curious to come back into the South Pacific. In those days (35 years ago) with our sextants, rotating Walker logs and RDF receivers it was much a more exciting and adventurous place, I think. Then there were no Eurovision Song Contest Bavarias, no Lagoon catamarans, no GPS units, no chart plotters, no freezers, very few refrigerators, no weather routers, no grib files and no bow thrusters. But I have been pleasantly surprised. We have studiously avoided the fleet of jolly sailors in the ARC Rally, and by and large the sailing fraternity remains warm, open and supportive. We found remote anchorages in the Tuamotus, we were alone at Beveridge Reef and there were only 2 yachts at Niue. Once in the middle of the ocean of course, you are still all alone. And that is a good thing.
But for me it is not as exciting as it once was. As Sebastian Faulks said,
“The fun goes out of life as you get older. But let’s pretend that instead of getting drabber it gets richer – like a coral shelf, with the accretion of ages…a proper compensation for the loss of that elusive thing, excitement. Youthful things are written bold on the virgin page; middle-aged experience is at best a palimpsest in which the previous drafts are legible and breathing.”
Chris would say, “time for the pills, darl”, but this isn’t a black dog thing. More an acknowledgement that things have to change to stay the same, and immortality doesn’t last.
And I just love my Panama hat.