We arrived in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico, yesterday to start preparing Eric's catamaran Jangarda for our trip down the coast to Zihuatanejo.
A recent email from my sister referred to my 'champagne lifestyle' - this gave me serious pause for thought. For the last few years I have been living in very reduced circumstances - homes have included a camper van, an office, a 6ft x 6ft x 6ft boat cabin and a Dickensian garret above an antiques shop in Richmond - and I quite enjoyed the feeling. Being poor kept me on my toes.
But due to my recent change of circumstances I find myself living in a beautiful house in the Gorge and sailing on a sumptuous catamaran in Mexico. Even before my sister's email, it had been bothering me. Will this lifestyle make me go soft? If I'm not living life on the edge, am I taking up too much room? Will it make my Pacific row all the harder, if I get used to this level of comfort?
My take on it is this: I used to think that money could buy happiness. But now I've found out that isn't true: I can be rich and miserable, and I can be poor and happy. Money and happiness have very little to do with each other.
I still don't have any money of my own, but I am lucky enough to be living the lifestyle of someone who does. I don't take it for granted, and I don't feel I need the rich man's toys to make life good. I could go back to living in a campervan and it wouldn't bother me.
So I'm just living life for the moment, and enjoying it. There will be plenty of opportunity for me to don my hair shirt and get uncomfortable next summer when I embark from San Francisco to row to Hawaii.
In the meantime, it's not all a joy ride. Back to swabbing the decks...
Song for the day: Once in a Lifetime by Talking Heads
The two happiest days of a boat owner's life are the day they buy it and the day they sell it, as the saying goes. Or a boat is a hole in the water that you throw money into. Boats (other than my very low-tech version) certainly seem to be high-maintenance creatures.
Jangada was hit by lightning during the summer, and on investigation we have found that all her electronics are fried. Casualties identified so far include radar, GPS, autopilot, radio (VHF and SSB), depth sounder and refrigerator. Replacements will be hard to find in Mexico, and/or ridiculously overpriced. At the moment we are still assessing the damage, and will then try to figure out what is essential and what we can manage without.
Today I am flying to Puerto Vallarta to spend most of December in 'Pacific Preparation Training', i.e. sailing Eric's catamaran down the west coast of Mexico. It's a tough job, but someone has to do it....
Jangada looks just a tad more comfortable than my boat. You can find out more about the boat and her previous adventures here, and of course I'll be blogging about her new adventures.
I'm not sure how often I'll have internet access, so blogs may be even more irregular than usual, but I hope to post updates most days.
I have added some new links to the right hand side of my website - to my favourite books. It was a surprisingly easy shortlist to produce. These are not necessarily the books I've most enjoyed, as parts of them make for uncomfortably thought-provoking reading, but they are certainly the books that have had the most formative influence on my personal philosophy.
For lighter relief, I also read a lot of biographies and autobiographies, especially about inspiring people doing adventurous things.
There used to be a time when I read a lot of fiction, back in my office-worker days when I liked to escape into a good novel. Now I'm much more fascinated by real lives than fictional ones, more interested in concepts and ideas than in being entertained.
I'm also making progress with my own book, about what I learned on the Atlantic. It's going to be a personal development kind of book, based on my ocean experiences and what I learned from them. It's not easy, shoehorning quality writing time into my life at the moment, but I enjoy writing, and it's proving to be an emotional experience reliving the days of the Atlantic Rowing Race, especially poignant as we approach the anniversary of the race start date (30th November).
[Image: provisional front cover for the book. Title to be announced in due course.]