How the years have flown…
This was the fifth time that Free has been lowered into the Gulf of Bothnia in as many years. How time has flown since 2013 when I crossed the northern sixty-degree parallel, venturing into waters so rarely visited by British sailors. I have never been interested in long ocean passages, or tropical paradises, rather the northerly reaches of our continent. How much is missed by those who follow the yacht highway to the south and west, Mediterranean and Caribbean? If only they knew what they were missing! And I’m in no hurry tell them, not that they’d take any notice of this old Viking and her unorthodox methods. Sure, I’ll never be able to teach anyone to sail like a Yachtmaster.
Travelling is like a fine wine to savour, not the thrash and bang of modern ways with all the jet planes, hotels, and crowded tourism, but like it once must have been. Up here one can almost fade into the eternal, lose the sense of self and enter that infinite realm of the gods. Unfortunately, the return into teeming civilisation hits hard and my heart cries out once again for the call of solitude. Gods abide in the silence.
I know enough about life to realise that nothing lasts forever and that should this all become normality, it would surely detract from its glory. No, the time is approaching when a southerly voyage is probable, for the sake of a sacred memory of this wonderful saga. Can I pull myself away?
Time and time again I have decided to leave only to be lured back into my Scandinavian dream, but now there is a sense of wanderlust afoot. That old travelling bone is stirring again and I know it so well; this impulse that has run through my veins since being a child, from my hunger for the sailor’s life, through years of drifting around the world – until now. I have never settled anywhere for very long and been typical for my Scots/Irish ancestors, a veritable wanderer.
The glorious present is a sun-soaked early summer after the long, beautiful harsh Swedish winter. Free appears to have survived it so well, although at times I feared for her condition as she lay under her brutal winter shroud. She never ceases to amaze me, my noble, brave little sailer, how she fights off everything that the elements can throw at her, almost as if Odin, himself was at the helm.
“Come on winter,” she seemed to say, “Show me what you’ve got…”
As the years go by, I find myself losing the ambition of the earlier part of my sailing life. Who cares where I go? Do I, even? One thing that I have learned in this life is it is the journey that matters, not the destination. My reasons for starting this saga was the result of a request from a friend, then it started to grow, despite the many times I have considered putting it to rest. Some wonderful cyber-folk have passed through the comments section and some still remain. If it has inspired one person then surely it was worth it. I have a feeling to sail around mid-June, but how many times before have I said that? Being a creature of spontaneity, I am likely to change my mind every other minute, so in real terms, anything could happen!
This year may see Kevin, my old friend from the Camino de Santiago, paying a visit. He expressed a desire to learn sailing, so it is possible that he may sail with me, although quite what he thinks he’ll learn, is open to interpretation. For many folks, living in a small, moving, cramped space and having to be ridiculously tidy is too much to cope with. However one never really knows until they try – and perhaps Kevin will prove to be the exception to the rule.
The hot sunshine smiles down on the awakening land, now fully arisen from her winter slumber, and I am reminded of high summer. What a strange year it is becoming. Could this be a hot, endless summer after one of the coldest Swedish winters in years? Life is sweet with my friends here, Marie Sandin, Kjell-Arne Hollmo and many others who have made me so welcome. Sure, it would be sad to let them go, but the world is my family, and I have been blessed with a lovely one.