Wednesday, April 23rd, 2020. – Vienna, Austria
Here i sit.
Quarantined instead of on mala moja.
Listening to Bob Dylan’s Murder Most Foul after having (finally!) cleaned my desk… and on the very bottom of the pile of paper i just went trough, consisting of old news, new bills, neglected to-do-lists, postponed letters and various notes, i found a diary-note of mine. A mala moja diary-entry that i wrote some 3 years ago in spring 2017.
My bags are packed, i'm ready to go... Sitting at home and listening to John Denver. With only three more days to go before my plane is taking me back to mala moja. Spring is coming to Austria and i am about to leave again. To finish the trip i set out on last year. Or at least try finishing the it. In the meantime i know that sailing is much more time consuming than i have thought it to be.
So i started. Little did i know how right the lessons i thought that i had learned would yet turn out to be.
But i also know that i am a bit better in handling a sailboat than i was a year ago.
I can still agree with that. But hey, that was a cheap line. Comparing a greenhorn and somebody who (almost) single-handedly sailed the English Channel, the Bay of Biscay and the Atlantic coast of the Iberian peninsula is… not really fair.
A lot has changed since i left mala moja half a year ago.
With travel restrictions in place and (extremely) limited social life all over the world, this line is still valid today.
It took me several months to "digest" my trip. I don't even remember the precise time, but i think it was not before January that i started to feel a longing for sailing and the sea again. It took me long before i had forgotten the hardships i experienced. Or at least that the memories have become weaker. But the longing came back. And i know that i would regret it if i would not try to finish the trip. If i would abandon mala moja half way through the journey. Not bring her to the Mediterranean. I know that the goal is ambitious. On paper even more so than what i have reached so far. Last year i was gone for almost six months. And sailed, pretty much exactly, 2000 miles. If i do reach the Balkan peninsula, then i will have probably sailed 4000-5000 miles [this year]. And i have only 3-4 months this time. But i did not only gain experience in sailing. I also learned that it's the journey that counts. And that one does not always reach the goals that are set out. Which is ok. So i will just try and see.
Finally, in the 4th year of the journey, we’ve reached the Med: Mala Moja docked to the pontoon of a Greek tavern in Corfu, sitting there with my parents, Greek food, some Retsina and a glass of milky white Ouzo…
I’ve been reading Jimmy Cornell‘s “200.000 Miles” over this winter. A guy who is a sailing legend. A sailing addict. And the book is highly recommendable to anybody who wants to go sailing.
So much that i’ve read was reassuring me. His experience was confirming the unconscious feelings i had. The two main things being that one must not fight but accept nature and that preparation is crucial.
The preparations have already been running for several weeks. I fixed the old auto-pilot (ordered a spare-part motor on ebay and replaced the broken one), so now i have a backup. I visited the boat and it's in perfect shape. The electrical problem with the engine-charger has been fixed (loose/corroded contacts at a fuse i did not even know existed) and - if it's true - the engine's rubber seal-ring will be renewed by the time i return to mala moja on Thursday. So all i have to do is clean the hull and put on a layer of anti-fouling. And of course prepare all the "small" stuff... but well, that's not really scary work. I expect that all of this will be finished within a few days. After which i should have some more days to go for some sight-seeing-sailing (and getting used to the boat again).
Another of those assumptions that turned out to be naively optimistic, as you can read here.
And then, my parents will come to visit mala moja - and sail with us up to Cadiz. Where Meli and Marko are going to replace them as crew and sal through the strait of Gibraltar with mala moja and me. Which is yet another thing i have learned last year... sailing is so much better with great company :) There is quite some work left to be done before i depart, and the bags need to be really packed. But the preparations are getting along well, the boat is in shape, and i am looking forward to reunite with mala moja and enjoy some summer sailing after having had a rough first season last year :) And until then i will listen to some more John Denver and enjoy this beautiful spring day in Austria.
Hiking in the Montenegro mountains, after sneaking through the Kotor’s city walls, where donkeys are still used to transport goods.
Hindsight tells me that sailing in the Mediterranean was not the Sunday school picnic i expected. And again, i did not reach the Adriatic in my second year of sailing. Not even in the third season – where i was actually sure to do so. But last year i did. And it was an awesome feeling.
Heading towards the old harbor of Dubrovnik’s historic city. Which was soo crowded that we simply sailed passed the city. A joke. Disney Land seems more authentic than it.
So many memories that i have. The initial 3-day-passage from Sicily to Corfu with Martin (from S/V Emil, who i did not see for 3 years), the first landfall in former Yugoslavia, the islands and the hopping between them with Meli, visits from my family, writers and sailors met, … And now? Now i’m sitting here, landlocked with no chance to get to mala moja and her into water.
It’s a first world problem. I know. But the urge for the sea and sailing… the freedom at sea. The endless horizon, where your eye does not encounter an obstacle. Where your sight is not limited by trees, mountains or man-made structures. Where you wake up and don’t take a shower but jump into the sea…
That i miss.
That i crave.
Mala Moja with shiny new red bimini and spanking new lazy bag which i (partially) had to get last fall, as the old fabric was falling apart after 19 years in service. And there she sits, waiting for summer-sailing in the Adriatic… and who knows when?