I started sailing the weekend after my mom died. I was seven years old.
Our remaining family of 4 bundled into the car and set off every weekend in search of the wind, water and distraction. Maybe my fierce sense of independence came from those days of sailing alone in my little boat, away from the tugging memories of comfort and belonging.
Sun kissed and windswept, we kept sailing small boats into our school days. But the sense of adventure followed into our home where my bedroom library was filled with stories of adventure and valour: Zane Grey and the mid-west cowboys, Willard Price and the Adventure series, Isaac Asimov and the Foundation series.
But the favourite was Horatio Hornblower... sailing the seas in the English fleet of Military tall ships, using his independence and difference to make sense of the chaos of war around him. Out of those stories were birthed four quests which grew into personal visions.
To sail to an unknown land. To sail across an ocean in a tall ship like the first explorers. To arrive in Cape Town seeing Table Mountain rise out of the ocean as
my country's first settlers saw it for their first time ages past. To sail into my home port knowing loved ones are waiting with warm
embraces and promises of intimacy.
Our family moved to Cape Town after my mom's death. And with it came the history of a sailing port with stories of explorers in tall ships discovering new lands, finally returning home to the welcoming sight of the Cape Town landmark of Table Mountain. My imagination blossomed with the imagery of sailors lining the rails after months at sea, searching for the flat topped mountain that would signify the final chapter of their voyage home. And at the same time, lining the docks would be their families - watery eyes searching for their loved ones while holding onto little hands of children who may not clearly remember their father's face.
My voyage on Bark Europa has four rituals of meaning and stories untold that encompass those images of my youth. Symbolising those four rituals are the four compass directions culminating in a tale yet to be told. For some, those compass directions are embedded in ancient symbols of archaic meanings.
My North- the energy of a warrior with a passionate heart on a quest: To sail the southern seas in a tall ship, from one continent to another, weeks on water at the beck and call of the wind and waves.
My South: the elements of magic with the energy of awe and wonder: Discovering the unknown land of the Antarctic and be filled with the magic, awe and wonder at what I see there.
My West: the direction of the King with energies of wisdom and leadership: To see Table Mountain rise out from the ocean depths and experience the same wonder as my country's first settlers - a vision of expansion and growth.
My East: the energy of the lover, warmth, and new beginnings: To sail into my home port knowing warm embraces of belonging and intimacy await.
After my mom died, we cremated her body and took her ashes to a Cape Town beach where we open clasped fingers so the wind could carry her memories and dreams back to the open ocean.
My return to Cape Town on this journey, riding those same open ocean swells, is a fitting tribute to those memories. The ship's bow nudges the ocean spirit to tell of a young boy's dreams and aspirations.
But the freshening wind now carries a different call- the distant echoes of my woman and child, urging the safe return passage of their loved one.