Letting Go

Getting the floor levels right

Getting the floor levels right

Carpenters off to work on Jerrican

Carpenters off to work on Jerrican


Discussing the Antifouling

Discussing the Antifouling

Attachment . . . bond, loyalty, devotion or appendage, apertenance or being emotionally involved with objects. For me it is not unlike the force of attraction between the opposite poles of a magnet or that of a limpet stuck to a rock. There has been a daily challenge, over the past week, involving the overcoming of attachment to things and all the emotional argument that goes with letting things go. The strangest objects have taken on the largest force of attraction . . . pieces of fabric that have been collected and kept for years, boxes of yoga books, pebbles, arbitrary pieces of drift wood, endless photographs, stationery, pieces of wrapping paper . . . carpets, chairs, clothes, the list is endless. I met a cruising couple a while back who had been cruising for 12 years and had just fallen “pregnant” so were approaching life on land again. They had put all their “stuff” into storage before setting off from the UK and were now waiting for the container to arrive. Now, 12 years on, they could not remember exactly what was in the container, things that were important then had been forgotten. They commented that they were receiving a “Time Capsule”, since they had not only packed clothes but computers! How different the world is today to what it was 12 years ago. I wonder what it will be like, one day, when we have completed our travels, as we approach our “final” journey, what would we want to pack into our “storage container”, what is the ultimate value of the things we hold onto with such energy?

In the midst of all the emotional energy being invested in these thoughts of letting things go and the meaning of life, “Jerrican” has been out of the water having her anti fouling extended up a half foot. The initial coating was exactly to the waterline without allowances. We have found a superb carpenter to assist with the tricky job of installing flooring. We have one week to be completely moved out of our house, it looks like we will be moving into the student accommodation with M for a week. M’s response: ” Are you going to move in with me?!?!?!?!! WHAAAT?!?

I am quite pleased though since I am struggling with the thought of M on her own . . . .I suppose, this is the biggest and most important “Letting Go” story off all. It is going to happen slowly!

How to Diminish an Obstacle


Patience . . . in abundance. I waited in Montagu for the river to calm and for the drift to be repaired. It took two “sleeps”. In that time I walked the length and breadth of Montagu town, visited two friends practiced yoga, yoga breathing,  yoga meditation and yoga stretches. Patience was rewarded, the stream is placated and I crossed this morning to find that the rains had filled our dam and that a swallow is in the process of building a nest under the eaves of the shack. All good! The desperation and agitation of two days ago has disappeared. Perhaps there is some wisdom to the old saying “sleep on it” when confronted with a problem or a difficulty, perhaps the only response to an obstacle is quiet patience and a little time.

Soup Ladles and a Small River Problem.


Moving onto a boat, from a house, is a challenge at the best of times. Moving onto a “Sort of” complete boat is a little more challenging. Splitting ones household into three between a floating carpentry workshop, a farm shack and student accommodation is madly confusing. I have begun the task of sorting and attempting to imagine what bits and pieces will be most appropriately allocated where. For instance, does one send a wooden soup ladle to the farm shack or to the student house or do you send it to the boat? What do you do if you have four soup ladles and only one spaghetti spoon?

After spending the last week sorting everything from books to linen, to garden implements and worm farms out, this rather small detail became an almost insurmountable challenge earlier today. Of course, obstacles are never presented in “ones” they always seem to come in groups! So after packing the Bakkie (PickUp, for those who don’t understand “Safrican”) and driving 3 hours to the farm, nature had a good laugh . . . there is no possible way to traverse the Keisie River at present. It is slightly in spate after the valley received 95mm of rain three days ago. The very same “cut off low” which dispersed the Cape to Rio fleet passed East and fed rain to the Little Karoo.

Our little farm shack is vaguely visible in the distance but there is just no way to get there other than walking the last 2 km’s on foot in reducing light with everything from books to linen and soup ladles! So into Montagu town to the local Backpackers. Fortunately Theo and Kiki of the Mystic Tin can put me up for the night. Tomorrow I WILL traverse the river . . . hopefully neighboring farmer Brand can be on standby with a tractor! The household stuff is NOT going back to Cape Town.

Sailing Around A Great Cape, Numbers Gangs and Wheel Spinning.


Jerrican was launched at the Royal Cape Yacht Club on the Atlantic side of the City of Cape Town. We had much to do to get her ready for the 9 to 12 hour trip around the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point to our home yacht club in Simon’s Town. Temporary floor boards had to be dogged down, carpentry equipment stowed, gas bottles secured and most importantly, a certificate of safety had to be obtained before we could leave port. We were a little disappointed that everything was not “perfect” with the rig “set up”. Our Forstay was a little too long. We would be limited to Main Sail, Stay Sail and motor as movement options. Our weather window arrived on the 30th of December and with some trepidation we set off. This was going to be the first time we would take the boat out to sea, the maiden voyage (think Titanic and that will provide some idea of my irrational anxiety). It all seemed a bit surreal. An old sailing friend, who has 11 Atlantic crossings under his belt offered to sail with us. We were so very grateful.

We left Cape Town harbour at 10am in a beautiful calm. Soon after our departure the expected fesh South Westerly came up and we sprung into action, reefing the main sail and rolling out the stay sail. With a 27 knot South Wester, Jerrican proved herself to be a sailing boat, sailing along at 6 – 7 knots. I glanced over to Jeremy and saw a most satisfied smile.
From here on we settled into the lazy routine of chatting in the cockpit in between excursions below decks for snacks and coffee, and of course trimming sails, sending out a lure to catch fish and just generally enjoying being on the sea. The appealing thing about sharing a journey on a boat is the opportunity to chat and to really get to know fellow crew, (while the weather permits) without the normal distractions of daily life . . . things like, the internet, traffic, radio . . .

Our old sailing friend (OSF) began life in a very dysfunctional and poor family. He was one of a few kids from “disadvantaged” areas who were hauled off to learn how to sail as part of a social upliftment project sponsored by the Mediterranean Shipping Company and the SA Navy. Story has it that he and his brother were on the streets. OSF has used the opportunity to make a career out of sailing. With 11 Atlantic crossings ticked off as part of his sailing log as well as being part of “Team Shosholoza”, the South African America’s Cup entry some years back, at 28 years of age, he is an encyclopedia of boat knowledge.
OSF, during “cockpit conversation”  talked of his current passion, of how he built a Ford engine for a car from scratch and began competing in “Spinning” competitions. The art of “Spinning” involves using a car with a powerful engine to spin wheels around until the they burst into flames. This has become a popular activity amongst a growing community of vehicle specialists and “Spinners” in South Africa. There are “Spinning” clubs and the entire sport is becoming very organized. Our local Southern Peninsula club is known as OVS, the Ocean View Spinners.

OSF also shared some knowledge of the numbers gangs of the Cape. I have a small knowledge of these gangs through a book I read some years back on the subject, but this does not compare with the knowledge that OSF has since he lives in a community where they form part of daily life and daily conversation.
I wonder at the fear so many people must live with, having members living in their communities. 26’s are rapists, 27’s murderers and 28’s are social manipulators and can be anything from an obliging sodomist or a fraudster. OSF has a brother who simply could not transform from life on the streets and is now a member of the 27’s.

There is a long history to the numbers gangs of the Cape.

We rounded the Cape of Good Hope in an unusual calm and arrived at False Bay Yacht Club to a welcoming committee from new yacht club friends S, L and their son who piped us in with bagpipes!! It was a very generous gesture on their part and we felt totally elated. In the ensuing chaos of sound, people and congratulations I turned around to introduce OSF only to find he had quietly slipped away. I am reminded that quiet spoken OSF does not like crowds, preferring the quietness of cockpit conversation at sea.



Kettles and Things


SY Jerrican newly launched 2013
Some years ago, 1994 to be precise, Jeremy and I made a life changing decision to move to the Middle East. We were young, naive and excited about our new life. We believed it held all sorts of possibilities for excitement and travel and of course, the possibility of realising our wish to own a live aboard sailing boat and to possibly take our kids sailing. We had two sets of friends who had set off ahead of us and done just that. Our son G was three years old and M was still to arrive. It would appear that dreams remain just that . . . just dreams until such time as one takes a truly honest look at the reality of one’s life and “sorts it out”. Our reality at that time was an unstable income stream and an uncertain career future. We realised that boat ownership was so very far out of our reach so we settled for a boat kettle instead of a boat. It was bought as the first step in the direction of boat ownership and as an expression of hope. We were excited about our kettle with its whistle and at moments when we felt discouraged about the possibility of travel and sailing, we took it out and boiled the kettle until its cheerful whistle blew. We still have the kettle, but it is inadequate now, being aluminium (not so healthy for tea!), a little small and fire battered since it has been used on so many occasions, including on many camping excursions. It has also been carried around through many many moves from one home to the next.

We gave up the expatriate life, having failed at it quite spectacularly and moved back to Cape Town in year 2000 to “start again”.
Thirteen years on and our kids are now semi independant. The possibility of going sailing is now within reach.
We launched sailing yacht “Jerrican” in early December 2013. Naturally,the occasion warranted the purchase of a new kettle!

“Jerrican” is a Dix 43, Steel Pilot House sailing yacht. We saw her 5 years ago sitting sadly in a yard. She fitted exactly our requirements in a boat with the exception of the price, we simple could not afford her. 4 years on, Jeremy sold his business and to our surprise she was still for sale but in a different yard. We deliberated, agonised and planned and then held our breath and put in an offer. To our surprise and delight (and some fear!) it was accepted. The boat was semi complete. Jeremy has spent the last year project managing her (semi) completion.
She now floats, is largely complete with the exception of some of the joinery, some of the electrics and some of the plumbing!! For our plan to work we need to be out of our rental property at the end of this month and have to move aboard. So we have some interesting challenges ahead. I intend blogging in future blogs about the challenges of living ones so called “dream”, of living off the grid, simply, without SOIL under foot, about people we meet, about attempts at growing ones own food in a very small environment, about the philosophy of Permaculture, away from land and about our personal triumphs and fears.