This tumultuous year began with so much promise, transformed into a complete nightmare before being rescued by the Angel of Gävle, my friend Roger Lundqvist. What should have become a long voyage south into the German canal system instead became a long, lazy hot summer alongside the Gästhamn in Gävle where temperatures exceeded even Rome at one point, and half of Sweden burned under ferocious forest fires.
The damage from grounding my old friend on a rock is something one can get over in time; not so easy is the betrayal by a friend, or should I say one who appeared – né pretended to be one, having more than a little to do with my fatal lapse of concentration. Those of you who have sailed with me on the cyber sea throughout all these years will know that I am not one to allocate blame easily – yet try as I may, ownership this time remains very difficult. This is the nearest I have come to pure hatred for many years, and it embarrasses me to say it – but say it I must.
The Tao of existence is about the balance between the light and dark in an endless dance between form and formlessness; so for every misfortune comes good fortune, which of course pertains to my friend Roger and encourages me to understand that the previous three men in my life were gaslighters par excellence. All three seemed dedicated to undermining my already fragile confidence and almost had me fooled. Bless Roger, who has tirelessly validated me throughout the three years of our friendship.
After an anxious few weeks waiting to see if there was a place for Free in Fliskär boatyard, Roger once again led the vanguard, smiting the ‘jobsworth’ dragon of a manageress who seemed okay in leaving the poor old boat in the harbour to face the cruel Swedish winter in stark ice-bound slumber.
At last my poor old sister was liberated for a long sojourn while the winter gods and spirits began their inevitable invasion of Odin’s Realm. They will play around her keel and turn her insides into frigid stillness, but she is safe from the cruel ice and can sleep until the return of the sun.
Next year will be the twelfth in this saga and once again I will attempt to head south towards, Poland, the great River Oder, and the canals and rivers of Northern Germany. It would be very u wise to make any prediction as to possible success in this endeavour, but know that, in my heart, I will always try my hardest, even when all seems so impossible.
There have been no regrets. There have been catastrophes for sure, but that is the seagoing life. One has to endure anything that calls for courage. No one ever said that freedom comes without a cost, but it is an honest struggle which batters the sense of self into a more refined and tempered being, dare I say it – a spiritual one?
Winter will soon be upon the land, but as the years fly by, I find myself with no regrets and would not change a thing.