Day Fourteen – Party Time

The first rule of sailing (unlike fight club) is safety. Alcohol is seriously frowned upon at sea for all the right reasons. I simply can’t imagine how terrifying it would be to be dealing with a squall related gear failure with anything but a clear head. With this in mind, I didn’t bring any beer or wine and certainly wouldn’t consider a “wee dram” at night. Unless of course it’s a special occasion. What I did bring were two bottles of champagne. One rationed for my birthday and the other for my very own “line crossing ceremony” when I cross the equator for the first time.

I prechilled the birthday champagne overnight and had the last of my fresh food saved for Ahyoka and I to have a lovely birthday lunch together. Mel’s family is from Greece and so we used to have special “Koulmandays” (Mel’s maiden name is Koulmandas) where all we ate were Greek delicacies such as dolmades, tapenades, hummus, smoked seafood, octopus and other delicacies. I love Koulmandays and it has been way too long since the last one so I thought it could be the ideal boat food for my birthday party given its either vacuum packed or in cans.

I planned on a late lunch, which could become an afternoon of grazing with no need to make dinner. A mid-morning nap was therefore on the cards along with plenty of reading. I’ve never spent my birthday alone, but the slow calm pace with which it unfolded seemed appropriate and anything else would have jarred with my broader experience and state of mind right now. I was able to connect with family and friends throughout the day via SMS so felt very loved and connected, but, if I’m honest, also happy to be alone. This great experiment of mine has a long way to go and throwing a life celebration into the mix and seeing how this affects the outcome is both curious and appropriate.

It’s another beautiful day and I even have some decent wind, so the boat is moving through the ocean nicely and I’m gratefully to see my log tick over at an average of 5 knots SOG. The wind shifts are still there, but I’m learning to accept the constant changes this requires and sink into the sailing.

As the sun starts down its long afternoon pitch, I pop the champagne, pour one glass for me and on for Ahyoka (which goes over the side). The thinking being that come glass two or three when my judgement may be impaired, and I change my mind about sharing the bottle there’s simply none left. I just can’t risk any overindulgence and I know there’s a “frank the tank” (character from Old School) in me so any temptation needs to be removed – sadly. The champagne is super cold and tastes devine. I say a toast to Ahyoka, thank her for a great effort the past 2 weeks and try to enjoy each cool sip so that the glass lasts as its still 2+ hours till the sunset reaches is visual zenith. My Mediterranean smorgasbord is as delicious as it looks (and as I remember) and I enjoy a slow afternoon of grazing, sipping, watching and listening. Nowhere else to go. Nowhere else I’d rather be. Time slows and takes on a blissful glow, enhanced by the champagne, the music and the colours of sunset. I sing. I dance.  I celebrate and I’m happy. Certainly, a birthday to remember and one I’ll never be able to replicate.

It really was a great party, though I turn in early, just after sunset and drift off to sleep. At midnight a squall hits and I’m very glad I shared the bottle with Ahyoka. I wipe the sleep from my eyes, crack off the sheets, bear away and go back to bed. Not even a squall is going to detract from my birthday bliss.  

12 Responses

  1. Hi Rory,

    Happy bday brother. Cheers to your daily updates over the last two weeks. You’ve given something special to look forward to each day and a different perspective to life! Keep going strong!

  2. Glad the birthday went as planned and you were able to enjoy the moment with Ahyoka! Cheers to 45 mate and I look forward to hearing about your equator crossing! Xo

  3. Happy birthday Rory! I am inspired by the journey you are going on, and your updates are a welcome reprieve from the horror of daily news. Cannot wait to see you back in Oz.

  4. Rory,
    I am glad you had the most beautiful and perfectly planned birthday.

    Amazing, Awesome, Beautiful, Fantastic, Incredible, Joyous, Gorgeous, Harmonious, Tremendous, Unique, Zen…

    No amount of adjectives or superlatives will ever suffice to capture your full experience of your Birthday on the Ocean.

    Although you did paint the most beautiful and perfect picture of your experience, and your enjoyment of the day, to permit us an insight and share your happiness . Thank you.

    You alone will behold this experience, and the emotion of the whole day, in your heart and soul.

    An everlasting imprint. Yours to treasure, remember and enjoy forever.

    The next Celebration will be when you graduate from being a Pollywog into a Shellback….And your will need to share the next bottle of Champers with King Neptune and your trusty steed, Ahyoka.

    Hope you find the wind from the right direction and don’t end up in the US territory!

    Fair Winds

  5. Happy birthday Rory
    Your daily blogs have become essential reading for us
    We’re living your experience through your story every bit of the way and your open and candid disclosures are taking us to the emotional spaces in our own lives.
    Thank you for sharing with us and we are willing all you desire from this experience

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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.