One year, three hundred and sixty five days, eight thousand seven hundred and sixty five hours, seemingly a lifetime ago. Today is a special day, our anniversary, the day I shook Phil’s hand, signed the final paperwork and officially began my journey with Kuhela. She went from a vision, an apparition, a dream in my mind’s eye to being to being something solid, something tangible, and something physical. She became my girl, my home, and a great source of pride. Even today I look at her and would not change a thing. I am a truly and honestly a lucky man. So much has happened in this last year, some of the biggest challenges and triumphs of my life. Things that tested me and taught me things, times alone with myself and the sea, amazing moments with friends, close calls, beautiful sights, new friendships, and a deeper realization of who I am.
Through talking with a close friend I came to realize the tragedy of the loss in our society of the initiation ceremony. A marking in time where a young man would have to undergo some trial or ceremony that would test him, push him past what he believed possible and instill in him a sense of pride, of being able to stand with the men of the tribe. This trip, in some ways, was mine, and it has done all those things and more for me. So many things I have done in the past were always with the aid and company of others and in the back of my mind the niggling thought lingered of whether I could accomplish these feats alone or had I been carried along by the strength of others. It may sound silly but in my mind this tarnished some of my earlier accomplishments in some ways, as I was unsure I could truly claim them as mine, as something I had faced and conquered. Its taken thirty-three years, but I now feel as though I have passed some of the trials necessary to stand with the men. There will be other challenges to come, I am sure, but I have crossed the line between youth adulthood. Thirty-three years… haha, some would say it took long enough.
This past year has been filled with so many memorable moments that its hard to remember them all, or even sometimes to put them in chronological order. Definitely one of the highlights was having my best mates come and sail with me, but equally as good was the time I spent alone. The more I sit here and try to remember definitive times the more it strikes me that it was more a product of the whole than any one event or happening that led me to where I am today. This journey has been more than just my time sailing, my time with friends or time alone; it is the continuation of something larger. Every lesson or skill I learnt growing up that I knew would come in handy when I had my own yacht, the firing of my childhood imagination to dream of things like this, the support and love of many teachers I've had along the way. This all started long before this specific journey. There have been side roads and wrong turns but eventually I found my way to where I am today. Oh, and just so you know, today I am anchored in shallow blue water, hair and skin still salty from my morning surf, reflecting on the past year, and honestly excited for the coming one. I feel inside the closing of one chapter and the beginning of the next. I feel ready to leave my girl here for a while, secure in the knowledge that we truly know each other, and return to Australia for a time.
Soon I will be sitting in the living room at my parent’s house, sharing a tea and time and stories with my family, and I can’t wait. My brother gave me an amazing gift before I left on this trip, a box with a compass inside, and written on the lid almost prophetic instructions, “loose yourself, follow your dreams, find your way home” Maybe this is something you have to do many times during the course of your life, but for this moment in time, I know I am slowly finding my way home.
Today is about Kuhela though. Happy anniversary, thanks for all you’ve given to me and I look forward to our future adventures over the years. We’ve got big plans for each other.