Wednesday, April 4, 2012

day 1

While other writers huddle in Starbucks outlets, nose in their computer screen, tall skinny mocha at the ready, coat layers bunched up beside them…. I am barefoot, typing away on a dock bar, peering through the wooden planks under me, to the crystal clear water lapping over the bright red crabs on the rocks below. 

White gossamer curtains hung from rustic wooden poles separate the tables and blow gently in the breeze. Beyond, the catamarans bobbing on the jetty provide the backdrop to a shimmering ocean. Shiloh is amongst them. In the galley JW sits surrounded by cables and wires and tools. He is fitting out the boat with all the systems and gadgets that will either be necessary or nice to have. Either way, I’m at a safe distance.

Holiday makers in bikinis and wraps pass me now and then, to and from the Dodgy Dock Bar. They are sandy toed and pink shouldered. They are enjoying a relaxing holiday. They probably assume I’m doing the same, or even that I SHOULD be, instead of sitting at a computer! But this is not a two week getaway for us. This is day three of the rest of our lives.

We have left everything behind and started life on a boat. It is still pretty surreal to me. I have precisely three weeks sailing experience and can barely tie the knots in my shoelaces. But I have known for years that I wanted to travel the world. I have never felt security in having a homebase, I would always have the feeling there was somewhere more interesting to live, so many more things to do and see that there would be a sense of longing, of restlessness.

Living on a boat, I reasoned, would allow me to travel the world cheaply, and not have to spend thousands on flying, living out of suitcases. JW concurred. Sailing has been his dream since he was 10 years old, helping out on a friend’s tugboat in Cape Town’s waterfront. Luckily his dream is accompanied by his skills as a captain!

To get here, to this very spot I’m in, has taken more than a decade – from planning to purchasing the boat, to seeing our kids off to University and quitting our jobs. It was a long time coming, but it all fell into place perfectly. Five years ago we bought Shiloh in the British Virgin Islands, and with the help of our kids, sailed her 700 nautical miles, to her current home at True Blue Bay in Grenada.

Since then she has been in charter, and we have been longing to be back here, to start our journey. To live out a dream, to truly enjoy… We’ve had so many reactions from family, friends and strangers. Most are incredulous – either they can’t believe we would do it, or wonder why the hell we’d want to. And there are those who would love to do the same, but see so many obstacles. In all cases, the prospect is something imagined, something mysterious.

For us it has always been romantic, inspiring, our main motivation. It has been the topic of so many conversations for us, so much planning, so much thought. And Saturday March 31st our plane touched down.

We managed the immigration hassles and made it to Shiloh’s welcoming saloon. ... And to a guy dressed head to toe in a white jumpsuit, eyebrows and hair a matted white, mask covering his face. Fiberglass work. No water onboard since the tanks were emptied to fix the crack with the fiberglass. No curtains, no galley couch cushions, and more wear and tear than we’d contemplated.
We walked onboard and began to turn green. The rolling waves and the moving jetty worked together to ensure instant seasickness. As we ingested our second round of Gravol Saturday night, we looked at each other in a drug induced fog.

Is this what our dream has led to? But day ones are always the most challenging. We’ve already been for drinks on a new friend’s yacht and managed to pack away the mountain of clothes. There is a real satisfaction in completing each task. It brings you back to the basics in life – taking each day at a time and appreciating each accomplishment.
In a couple of weeks Shiloh will be fully kitted out and ready to sail the ocean blue – and we will too!!!


  1. Fabulous! You're following your bliss and I can well imagine how very exciting it is. You'll do fine and have a great time. You'll not say in your dotage that you're sorry you didn't do this.

    I'm looking forward to following you on your blog and who knows, we'll run into you somewhere in the world. We'll be on the road (if not sea)in a year or two.

    (Please, allow me to sign in with my name and url.)

  2. Oooh, Lucky you! I can't wait to read about all your adventures! If you ever get to Positnao do let me know, I'll be waiting with a bottle of prosecco on the pier! I feel like you've given me a plan or an idea for when my daughter grows up!

  3. So excited for you, Holli! Yes, it sounds magic to know so many adventures wait ahead! I also feel happy to follow you on this little row boat/blog just behind you around the globe! Bon voyage! Nante Yie! Trevlig resa!

  4. Oooh, it sounds marvelous. I am so glad you are willing to share your adventures with us. We will miss you in Ghana, but as Kajsa said Bon Voyage and Nante Yie!


  5. Glad you contacted us (Mid-Life Cruising) and looking forward to following your journey! We had no sailing experience when we bought our sailboat and still don't have much yet. We just came home from our first vacation to the Virgin Islands, and thought perhaps we should have bought our boat in the Islands as ya'll did! Oh well, we'll get there!