Better to journey or arrive?

We are closing the Uruguayan coast but it would be a misnomer to think of us
as racing home.  Racing might convey the archetypal image beloved by the
press of a yacht with spray if not waves braking over her bow as she surges
into the billow of a dramatic sea.  It also implies watches constantly
trimming the sails as they strive to gain every possible extra .1 of a knot
of speed.  Trimming on board Elinca might better refer to the voluntary but
enthusiastic and growing group subjecting themselves to press ups, sit ups
and “planking”.  In fact Elinca’s progress is a rather more sedate downwind
Corinthian style cruise to the finish.  For the less nautically experienced
reader a word or two of explanation.  Consider for a moment two car crashes;
in the first two cars collide head on and if each is doing say 15 mph then
the speed of collision is 30 mph, alternatively consider a car doing 15 mph
being hit from behind by a car doing 20 mph, the speed of collision is 5
mph.  And so it is with upwind and down wind sailing; upwind being analogous
to the first crash and downwind to the second.  In much the same way that
the first crash has a dramatic and crunch feel to it so the second has a
more gentle one, exactly as in downwind sailing.  Ironically it is this less
positive feel and slower speed that demands higher levels of concentration
and is more difficult to “feel” and master.

No matter.  Like generations of seafarers before us thoughts are turning to
arrival and the comforts of the shore.  Rough and other tourist guides have
become obligatory reading and plans for unrestricted access to showers, food
and even alcohol (within moderation of course) are being openly discussed.
There is even consideration of the feasibility of a a night out in
Montevideo.  So unlike our forefathers who typically were commercial seaman,
the irony is that having voluntarily signed up for an ocean sailing
experience “because we like sailing” what is really focusing us is a return
to the normality of shore side life.  I don’t think its that we have had
enough of sailing, its just easier to focus on the thought of a run ashore
than on trimming the sails or ship board life, routine and learning.  Last
night there was a conversation on some food fantasy or ingredient that we
were missing for a particular recipe.  The conclusion was that in future no
one would complain about the effort of going to the corner shop or
supermarket.  In fact supper was a runaway success, and whilst on the
subject of food particular praise must go to Richy’s baking which just today
(and not in isolation) has produced ciabata bread way better than your local

For the avoidance of doubt the above is observation not criticism but it
does beg two questions.  The first is an age old one about whether its
better to journey or to arrive.  In the rush of modern living it is often
the arrival that is seen as more important but perhaps Adventure 2013 gives
us opportunity to focus on the journey?   And secondly, particularly for
those of us who  firmly believe in the power of sail training to bring life
changing experiences;  if these are the thoughts of shore life that we bring
aboard and hanker for, and if learning to trim the main sail isn’t the skill
we take ashore then what are the benefits of life afloat that we take
ashore?  Perhaps then its not that I wont complain about going to the
supermarket for the missing ingredient rather I’ll use my ingenuity and
imagination to manage without it and produce something even more
flavoursome. The example may be trivial, but I believe the philosophy of
approach to be not only right but powerful.  It extends way beyond the
management of our limited but more than adequate resources through to the
very heart of our values, beliefs and ethos.

So although you will find me in a Uruguayan bar downing (and hopefully
enjoying) a pint,  what I bring ashore will be richer, more rewarding and
remembered long after the beer, (unless of course we chance on a Hogshead of
Black sheep, in which case all bets are off).

Richard P

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3 Responses to Better to journey or arrive?

  1. Kirsts says:

    And in other news… there is quite a lot of unrest in Ukraine and a lot of storming of military bases, everyday it reminds me of my time as Base Commander at Vernadsky. I think we really missed our chance for a coup!

    Sounds like you’re having a fab time anyway, hope Project Brio is working out for you and you’re all ready for the beach/speedos/european or……

    Yours truly,
    The Base Commander

  2. Ali Lennox says:

    Really enjoyed that blog post Richard! Couldn’t agree more.

    Just in case anyone cares, Juliet and I had a wonderful time in Punta del Diablo and Cabo Polonio, both of which are up the coast and are pretty easy to get to by bus. At Cabo Polonio there is an amazing sea lion population, but I bet you are sick of those guys. Both are really chilled out surfer-style meets fishing village beach towns with lots of hip / fun bars, nice beach walks and places to explore. We probably preferred Punta del diablo, which is also near a nice national park that you can cycle round. In both places you can rent ‘cabanas’. We rented one in Punta del diablo, right on the beach for next to nothing (much cheaper than hostel) – it was super idyllic. If you want more details let me know. Oh yeah, and we didn’t think much of montevideo…
    Very jealous, as always, about your trip.

    much love to all
    Ali Lennox

  3. Excellent blog as ever Richard.

    Having a reason to follow Elinca’s journey on this leg has been great. What a privilege it has been to look in and to share in a very small way some of the experiences. Thank you.

    Is arriving still part of the journey I wonder?

    James and Clare who I don’t know (I feel I do a little) have a pretty amazing start to the journey of a life time. Good luck along the way.

    By the way no Black Sheep but consignment of ale from Valhalla Brewery soon to be on ferry!


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