Day Thirteen – Farewell Droopy Drawers (and my youth)

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…

16 Responses

  1. Rory
    I look forward each day to the next chapter in your amazing adventure.
    Delighted to see you are making good progress and you keeping your spirits up.
    A very Happy Birthday to you. Hope you have a special bottle of something you can celebrate the occasion with. I will raise a glads🍷
    to you tonight.
    Best wishes

  2. Happy Birthday Rory! You have done more with your 44 years (and counting) than most people would have the imagination to do, given three times that. …. This better be a book, can’t stop reading!
    Hugs, Jane.

  3. Hey Rors – great to see you ushered in your 45th birthday as perfectly as we’d all hoped you would. With the Southern cross, some inspirational reading and music sounds like the ideal space for self-reflection and motivation. Your story keeps me intrigued everyday and Irene, Lucas and I are singing happy birthday to you today as we wish you well on the southern cross leg of your journey.
    Much love.
    James and fam. Xo

  4. Happy Birthday Rory, cheers to your beautiful soul, cheers to your adventures, cheers to your resilience & cheers to friendship ! I hope you can feel the love from all of us; we celebrate you today and toward this wonderful journey. Much love, light and giant air hugs, Fatou

  5. Happy Birthday Little Emu!

    I love reading your posts bro. They’re a treasured part of my day and I find so much that resonates in my own journey into the middle age. I mourn for concentrated periods of reading in the same way that you do (now did). My goal after reading is to make the conditions right to bring that back into my life.

    Kia Kaha my friend.

  6. Happy birthday, dear Rory, and way to bring in the completion around the sun! I truly look forward to your posts every day and am in awe of the experience you’re having. The overall rawness, the range of extremes, the humbling dimensions of the ocean environment… it’s incredible.

    Stay safe, thank you, and sending you supportive energy 🙂

  7. Happy Birthday Rory. Glad you had a chilled out day with sounds and books, the moon and stars, especially the majestic Southern Cross to guide you on your way home.

    Don’t worry about the numbers… 4, 5, 9, 45, or transposed 54, will arrive in a flash. Birthdays are a but a staging post, or port of call thru life. Each is different for so many reasons… friends, locations, life experiences, dreams, thoughts, plans… they just keep on coming, and we keep on enjoying the privilege of reaching the next one.

    Who knows where your next one will be, and how you will celebrate.

    Hope you managed a wee dram to celebrate today’s
    tho, and be sure to know, we are all celebrating with you, and wishing you a great voyage.

    I do like the idea of a book….

    Cheers from Bonnie Scotland

  8. Hi Rory!! Many Many Happy returns of the day!! Loads of love n best wishes…
    Do post a few pics or video of your interesting journey home…
    Happy sailing!!

  9. Happy Birthday Rory.
    I have loved reading your daily words. Brings such joy to me.
    Amazed by your journey and look forward to one day seeing you again.

  10. Happy birthday Rory! Love hearing about your adventures. And get back into those books. Reading is truly one of life’s greatest joys. Xxx. PS: I thought the Southern Cross was on OUR flag!!

  11. Dear Rory,

    Happy birthday… from the dynamic duo!! What a special and adventurous way to spend your birthday! We admire your courage!

    We are following your blog closely and tracking your progress. Always very happy to know that you are safe and tackling every challenge. We are looking forward to you being our Commander in Chief once again!

    Stay safe and keep going…

    Jessie & Coby

  12. Happy birthday Rory! I’m enjoying following along and hoping, in your next year, your soul finds peace and this journey makes you less weary. I like the pictures you paint with your words, I feel I am sometimes sitting on the boat right there with you. I’m sending you good vibes from the other side of the world, we could all use a little of those right now. Cheers! – Angela (HKS buddy)

  13. Rory, I too got your details from your Aunt Liz. But unlike Eileen I have absolutely no sailing experience and totally unlikely to ever set sail on the high seas. But I am loving reading your daily blog: I love hearing about your housekeeping and cooking tasks, what’s on the menu and how you pass your day? Keep safe and enjoy making memories.
    From Aberdeen.

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Rory Hunter


Entrepreneur. Chief Executive Officer, Song Saa Collective. Pioneers of sustainable development in South-East Asia. The collective includes Song Saa Resorts and Song Saa Private Island in Cambodia’s Koh Rong Archipelago. 2006, co-established the Koh Ouen Marine Reserve, Cambodia’s first-ever marine protected area. The reserve has since expanded to 400 square kilometres and has gained the support of Monaco’s Prince Albert II. 2013, founded the Song Saa Foundation, an independent NGO dedicated to preserving Koh Rong’s underwater sanctuaries, providing alternative means of livelihood for its residents and bringing much-needed healthcare and education to the region. Speaker at international conferences, including the G20 Summit in Brisbane in 2014. World Economic Forum Young Global Leader. Member of the prestigious Young Presidents Organisation. Former advertising executive and worked for multinational firms including Saatchi and Saatchi. Graduate, Harvard Business School; studied sustainability and resilience, Stanford University: Global Leadership, Harvard Kennedy School; BEcon, Sydney University. Completed the Coast to Coast in 2015, one of the world’s toughest endurance races, set in New Zealand, in 17 hours; offshore sailor, downhill skier, long-distance runner and proud dad of two boys.