Oceans and islands
It’s time for an adventure. Perhaps it’s always time for an adventure of one kind or another? The trouble is, many people live in my head – it gets very crowded in there. The bold, brave me makes plans to have a bold, brave adventure and then disappears a few days before it’s time to go, leaving the meek, nervous me (who’d really rather stay at home) to pack an impossible amount of things into a small bag and face the stress of international airports, connecting flights, meeting new people, sailing new boats and facing rough seas.
But the sixties is a powerful decade of life, if you are lucky enough to be in reasonable health. Your diary becomes sprinkled with more funerals than weddings and life gains in intensity. Every day that you wake up brings a deep rush of gratitude. The phrase ‘I’ll do that one day’ has been replaced with ‘If not now – when?’. Some new skills or experiences cost money, some don’t and if they do, you look at the dwindling pot of savings that you’re keeping for a rainy day and realise that it’s pouring and the time is now.
When I tell people where I’m going some of them say ‘Oh how wonderful, I’d love to do that!’ but many others say ‘good grief, are you quite mad?’
I have packed four empty sketchbooks but no camera. Suncream, sunhat, thermal underwear, balaclava, oilskins and waterproof boots. This time it’s no cruise ship, and if you’ll forgive my size 6 carbon footprints of the flights at each end, I’m doing several thousand miles of travel in between under sail. My journey under sail begins in the Galapagos Islands and finishes at the Falklands. I have a thing about islands. I’m interested in the way that the sea connects them all and yet isolates them all, giving each a unique character, and I think islands can teach us much about the planet, itself a little island in space. There are no places left on earth that humans haven’t got at and messed up, but the southern ocean still has enough power and beauty to put us in our place. For some reason I’d like to see it. On Christmas day I will be somewhere off Cape Horn, so raise a glass to me that day if you’re sitting by a toasty warm fire.
The boat I’m joining in Galapagos has just sailed through the Northwest Passage at the top of the American continent (it is rather more ice-free these days than it used to be – I wonder what poor Lord Franklin would make of that?). ‘Tecla’ is a Dutch ketch, steel, and has been round the world before, so she and her crew know what they’re about. Obviously I’ll be out of contact for most of the time but she does have a satellite tracker on board so you can follow our progress on https://www.tecla-sailing.com/follow-the-tecla/
I’ll be back in January, hopefully with some full sketchbooks and a new appreciation of our watery world. If you want to do some Christmas shopping and you live locally, come and see me this week or come along to my final open studio weekend of the year:
Saturday 2nd November 10-5 and Sunday 3rd November 12-4. Get in touch if you need directions (01394 549247)
If you’re not local, don’t worry – my online shop will be open while I’m away as my friend Emma will be popping into the studio regularly to package up and send out orders. Don’t forget your year planner! Mine is on the wall and I have worthy thoughts of working extra hard next year to fill up the empty coffers. No more adventures for a while after this one, honest. Well, for a while at least.
Finally, if you’re tempted to run away to sea but are not sure where to start, I heartily recommend hopping across to https://classic-sailing.co.uk/ – but be warned – once you get addicted to traditional boat sailing there’s no going back!