I used to be able to read for hours without interruption when I was younger, getting lost in the world my mind was now a part of, often staying up all night if the story had me in its grasp. Lord of the Rings had this affect on me as a teenager, as did James Clavell novels in my late twenties, amongst many others. However, as the distractions of technology and media grew, my ability and desire to read for long periods of time wanned. The dopamine hit from a new WhatsApp message, email (constant bloody email), social media “likes” or the irrepressible “breaking news” cycle taking away my attention time and time again, to the point where my mind just wasn’t able to stick with books like it used to. I miss books. I miss the stimulation they bring and the joy and captivation I used to feel when I was in the moment, my own imagination at one with the authors. One of my many aspirations for this trip was to rekindle my love affair with books. My cunning plan was to ensure there weren’t any distractions out here, download some wonderful authors on my kindle and create the conditions for this relationship to be reset – i.e. lots and lots of free time. I’m very happy to report that its worked – books and I are back baby! I spent hour upon wonderful hour reading today and loved every minute of it.
There was no wind when I awoke this morning and when puffs did come, there was no consistency in either wind direction or strength, so I thought it a good idea to put the engine on and get a few Nm under the belt, if nothing else to boost morale. This meant I had little to do and therefore reading (after my daily chores) was at the top of my To Do list, closely followed by resting and napping.
As I doze on deck, I get lost in Hermanos Guiterrez. It’s becoming the sound track to my journey so far. The layers and complexity of each track are fascinating and like the ocean, I seem to experience a new perspective each time I listen to them. The tension and complicity of the electric guitar contrasted with the sharpness and smoothness of the semi-accountic guitar is mesmerising and so full of nuance. One gaining dominance over the other, quickly to be reversed in the next track. It feels a little like the Ocean and my relationship. We’re connected and at one but there’s a constant push and pull for dominance. Neither always on top, overpowering the other, but a friendly to and fro, almost like a game of tennis between two best friends, both of whom are highly competitive but who love each other more and therefore don’t want to win or lose. They just want to play and enjoy the game itself along with their time together, just as the ocean and I do each day.
We went through a rain shower late morning, so I try my hand at rain harvesting again. It wasn’t a long shower, but I managed to get 2 x 5L bottles of water filled which would give me 3 days or more if needed, so a good further addition to my emergency rations.
As my fresh food supplies are getting low, it’s going to be time to turn the fridge off in a few days as I’m using the generator more often than anticipated in this leg of the journey. I need to ensure I’ve got plenty of fuel remaining for the doldrums in a week’s time as its currently forecast to be a much larger area than expected due to a high-pressure system that’s sitting across the Western Pacific right now.
Today marks my last day of being “droopy drawers”, Bingo Lingo for 44. The boys and I like to use this hilarious British numbering systems as a type of nickname that refreshes each year. Loky, for example, is “Knock on the Door” (4) and Naryth is “Legs” (11). I used to work at Europe’s largest bingo parlour in Dundee, Scotland when I spent the summer there many years ago. I was 19 and had just finished my first season ski instructing at Lake Louise in Canada. My best buddy Jas joined me and what ensued was a summer filled with adventure, mischief and laughter with my Dundee based cousins and their friends. For the first time I felt part of a larger family and connected to my Scottish heritage, so it’s fair to say I have a soft spot for Bingo. Sadly, my new moniker will be “halfway there” at 1-minute past midnight tonight. Not nearly as cool as previous years. Even Bingo Lingo making it quite clear that, for all my protests and denials, I’m entering middle age.
Starting this life stage on a boat hurtling through the Pacific helps to take the sting out of the reality check though. I think it’s less our age that concerns us as we grow older and more what this translates into as far as opportunities and experiences go – or the lack of them. Sitting here, entranced by the setting sun with rainbows all around Ahyoka and I, thanks to the multitude of rain cells, middle age aint looking so bad. I will however, soak in my final few hours of “youth” as Droopy Drawers.
My companion the Moon is growing. I’m enjoying watching him slowly gain in both size and significance each night. The early night sky is now lit up with silver and grey hues and there’s no need for torches or light of any kind. Watching the boat sail in this light is a marvel of shadows, layers and reflections. I can watch these moon rays and corresponding shadows for hours. Something you simply never see when living in a city like Hong Kong and it feels like I’m able to see my world through a totally different lens each night. Even on my bunk in the cabin the moon’s rays reach me, bathing me in light as I drift off the sleep.
The stars seem to recede more each night as the moon grows, giving the Earth’s little brother his opportunity to shine, knowing their turn will come around again soon. The might of the Southern Cross can’t be dimmed though, even by the Moon. This majestic constellation is now on my horizon each night, marking the direction of home – South. Its more than a compass bearing though. For us antipodeans the Southern Cross represents our special place in the world. Far away but unique. Not part of the old world but a place where explorers and adventurers can thrive. A place where we’re not weighed down by tradition and have optimism and youth on our side. A place where anything is possible. A place fondly called Down Under. So dear to Australians is the Southern Cross that it’s on our national flag. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen this collection of stars and I find its sight each night comforting as well as hypnotic. Home is just over the horizon, below the Southern Cross and across the water. It can’t be that far now…