It’s been a year of firsts, and a year of lasts…
Last days of work on our beautiful resort island, followed by a bunch of farewell events with the great family of friends we made over the years. Last kitesurf sunset sessions, at least for now. It was the last time we boarded a seaplane to head to the capital, and finally, our last international flight out as we headed home to spend one of our first festive season’s with friends and family in ten years.
We enjoyed our first sail on our first and new-to-us sailboat, Maia, during our first trip to Malaysia. Climbed a mast for the first time, did some solo sailing for the first time and for the first time ever, booked one-way tickets out of South Africa.
The past year has been filled with an intense mixture of doubt and excitement. Were we doing the right thing, can we do this and how do we do this? Throw in a couple of “yeah, we are doing this”, and a few “this is going to be amazing” and you get a better understanding of the emotional roller coaster we have been through. With only a few weeks to go, initial packing has begun, and our portable baggage scale has been working overtime. What goes, what stays…? Do we really need that? Out go the shoes, replaced by a new chart plotter. Get rid of the books and throw in the cameras. Pack, weigh, repack and weigh again.
How is the wish list getting longer, even though we are ticking things off on a daily basis? Call the airline, see if we can arrange excess baggage. “No sir, not from this office, call your local airline representative”. “Sorry sir, you must call the international call centre”. Okay, so no excess baggage, gotcha…
Registration renewal done. Insurance completed. Documents printed. All new electronic devices registered and warranties updated. Charts downloaded. Interactions with officials rehearsed and strategies implemented. Customs tries an insurance clause issue… Boom, we resist with a “check page 10″… Immigration attempts a sneaky “you need two copies” and we counter with a “thought so, here you go, sir…”
Exciting times ahead. During the short time we spent on board, we met an amazing group of fellow sailors and have been following their progress and movements. We have now begun to plan our initial, proposed routes and figure out where to go after leaving Malaysia. At this stage, Thailand looks like our first destination, and after doing some research on what to expect, are now excitedly looking forward to exploring this beautiful area, and meet up with some of the other boats already out there. “You can sail safely, or you can sail on a schedule, you can’t do both”. We have decided on the safe route. We will take our time, find some beautiful remote places, set our anchor, and enjoy. The sailing community is filled with wonderful people who are willing to document and share their experiences and we will look to them for recommendations and saved anchorages that they have used in their travels.
As for Maia, she too is ready. She has had a lot of work done and is looking and feeling ready for the new adventures that await her. Besides the extensive upgrades to her engine and propulsion system, we have taken care of her bottom, checked all through-hulls and replaced faulty seacocks. We installed a holding tank, cleaned out her water tanks, added shade and cleaned up the interior. She has a new chart plotter (still to be installed) and a new anemometer (still to be installed). Her new batteries will hopefully keep us powered for a few years still and her solar performance is looking bright. Let’s not forget our own comfort. We purchased a mattress topper, some wind funnels, hammocks and sunset viewing chairs. We moved our shower facilities to outside as we are in the tropics, which means no knocking our elbows while trying to shower in the cramped head and attempting to dry the area afterwards. The fridge will keep our beers cold and wine chilled.
The new year will again see a lot of firsts and many lasts. Once we leave our marina, we are effectively world travelers. Our next destination still to be decided, our next home is where the anchor drops. How long it takes to get there is undetermined and the comfort of the trip is not yet confirmed. For the first time in our lives, we will not be regulated by a schedule and we will have to learn how to be comfortable with this. It’s time to really slow down and enjoy the present moment and realise that life really is a journey, not a destination.