I think subconsciously I have been avoiding writing this post. Normally the process flows very easily, I am able to weave together the story, what I am feeling and the latest happenings in one or two sittings, but this one has been taking quite a bit longer than that. Part of it has been that I have just been busy getting things done on board, but honestly the major part has been that this is the final chapter for this leg of the trip. Its not that I am upset about that, quite the opposite, but it is still hard to string together the many different and mixed emotions and feelings I have at the moment. Sitting in the surf the other day (yes, I still find time for that) I was thinking of the many themes I wanted to communicate and some of the first words to come to me were gratitude, ocean and dreaming, and then a flood of others once I gave it a moments thought.
I have just finished the final touches in putting Kuhela to bed for a while. Taking down sails and lines, clearing out all the perishable food, covering her to protect her form the sun and rain, cleaning to prevent mold, servicing winches and engines, and on op of that, packing my bags, again. The mixture of emotions with all these jobs is there; from pride in Kuhela and myself for accomplishing the goal set for ourselves, through to the sadness that comes with saying goodbye and the excitement of the next part of the journey blended into the mix. Sometimes I find myself on autopilot and have to bring myself back to the moment. To enjoy what is happening now, and the few days I have left here in Panama. Again I have been lucky and have had friends around to help me get things done. Like so many other things on a boat, prevention is better than cure and the major things on the list were to redo all the woodwork on the rails and polish and wax the hull, along with countless other small jobs. Kuhela has been getting quite a few comments in the marina and have even had a few passed my way as well as to my diligence in looking after her. This was also a challenge as I haven’t done it before and didn’t have a plan or routine that I could call on, but I worked it all out and one by one ticked off the many things on the list. Things have also continued to fall into place; the deal with advertising for the marina is coming along and a lovely South African couple that is in the pen next door looking after Kuhela for me.
On the final day I found myself ticking off the last things on the list but even when there was nothing really left to do I couldn’t really leave, I simply didn’t want to. To leave Kuhela, my home and my girl, behind with no clear idea when I would see her again is something that I didn’t know how to really prepare for. I sat and spoke with her for a bit telling her my thoughts and plans and savoring those last moments of just being on board. After the last year of being together I have no doubt in the world that she is the right boat for me and we know each other so very well. It has been quite a journey but through it all I did feel a touch of destiny (if that doesn’t sound too dramatic) and even through the hard times knew I was on the right path. To see the transformation in myself, and in Kuhela as well, from where we were at before and the way we now know each other is beautiful. I know I amazed Marc quite a few times by knowing what exactly each sound she would make is, and have certainly spent a lot of time, usually in the middle of the night, trying to find the source of any unfamiliar sound I should hear. I still feel as proud of her as I did the first day I sailed her, and told her so, and in those last few minutes alone I know she answered and was looking forward to my return. All too quickly I found myself putting my packed bags onto a boat and getting a transfer to town. The good bye was a bit harder than I thought though, and with a beautiful sun setting in the background and not a breath of wind I watched Kuhela disappear in the distance and felt so many memories and emotions of the last year come flooding back, I cant wait to see her again.
After a last night in town it was the start of a few long flights that would take me back to the other side of the globe, to see family and friends again and to continue working and building towards the next phase in the journey. I have written so much of what this trip has meant for me and the things I have learned, and now it is time to out those lessons into practice and see what the next phase of life will bring. Soon I will be back sitting in my parents’ house and enjoying that long promised cup of tea, and sharing the stories of the trip with them. Firstly though it’s off to New Zealand to explore and catch up with friends for a bit before starting to look into getting some work. I'm sure the bank will be in shock to actually see money go into my account for the first time in a very long while. So much of this trip has been the people along the way, and I have met some great people here in Bocas. It was great to spend time in one spot and get to know the people and the place. It’s getting to that time here though, when everyone heads off in their own direction on their respective journeys. In the next few weeks most of the mates I have made here will all be off to other places and new adventures, until the threads of our respective paths cross again. I also was able to catch up with my cousin Adam and Dennis, whom I haven’t seen since Florida, while I was in LA and was awesome to see what there up as they follow their own dreams and plans.
If anyone is reading this and has some little spark of a dream or wish smoldering away inside of them, I can only beg and encourage you to tend to it, protect it, slowly feed it and watch it grow, and never, never let anyone else put it out. Dreams, especially ones pushed to the wayside, can be fragile; it’s a horrible thing to let one die and a true sin to kill someone else’s. I can now speak from experience and honestly share one of the truths I have found, and that is that if you put in the work towards living your dream, you can, believe it, believe me. My brother taught me a very important lesson years ago though, not everyone has the same dream and so you cant judge others by your own. I'm not sure if he knows of the effect the irrefutable truth he spoke to me on that day, when I stupidly questioned what he was doing getting married so young, I was telling him he should go travel and see the world and live the dream, my dream, and he looked at me and said that’s exactly what he was doing, following “HIS” dream, living “HIS” dream. There was nothing more to say to that argument and I'm so stoked for him and look forward to seeing my little niece when I get back. Find your dreams whatever they are and live them.
I will continue to write and share my journey on here and I'm pretty interested to see where this leads and what’s to come. I would really like to share a big thanks to all those who have read and commented along the way so far, that alone has blown me away and I am so stoked to be able to share this with you. I guess, for the next little bit anyways, it will be more by sandals than sail, but I'm sure ill find my way back out to the ocean sometime soon and will look forward to the next time the wind blows me across the water to wherever it is this daydream leads. Soon I will replace my camera gear and cant wait to get back out there and get shooting again. Safe travels to everyone and remember to keep in smiling.