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news: some kakky, some exciting

26 Jan

Disastrous news first: Stoffie has been struck down by a ghastly 24 hour (we jolly hope) stomach bug!!! That’s like 1/6th of the whole time we have left here. yheeee.

BUT on another altogether marvellous note: Something That Deserves A Post All Of Its Own (and, particularly, free from panic-inducing sickness notifications)… but I have blog-time so infrequently these days I might not actually have time to post it and that would be a tragedy.

Ladies and Gentlemen: I introduce our “boat cards”. Boat cards are a lot like business cards, except, there’s not too much business-y about cruising, so calling them business cards would just be cheeky. Our amazing and brilliant friend Sam designed them and they are being printed as I type!


More excitingly, they are the basis for the new look decal for the Laura Takalani and the new look of this here website! Which will happen some time soon. Flippin awesome.


i got cash…

25 Jan

After some long hard months of saving, we’ve finally had to start spending on stuff for the boat. And I, Sara Lynn Hillratt, have been BLEEDING cash all over Cape Town.

Perhaps some perspective (and a small story)? I’ve got a bit of a frock-weakness. Some women love shoes, handbags or underwear. I love a dress. LOVE. I can walk into almost any store anywhere and I will become infatuated with at least one frock (probably more) on the rails.

Two seasons ago, I had a particularly “liberal” approach to purchasing those frocks. Until I found a particularly spectacular floor-length, flowing silk, halter neck (great cleavage), dress which I knew I had to have. Except, it cost about six (ok, maybe eight) times more than the amount that I normally consider to be reasonable for frock spending. Of course I bought it. But I did promise myself that I would exercise self-discipline for the rest of the season and not buy another dress. And if I can’t spend my money on dresses, then I somehow find it rather easy to avoid spending money at all…

Next thing, Stof and I came up with this rather romantic notion of travelling around the Pacific. So operation Save-As-Much-As-We-Can was launched, thereby cauterising the flow of unnecessary money from our household.

We’ve done a fair bit of saving from a solid year-and-a-bit of being on low cash spend.

Suddenly, I have had to buy a whole bunch of the things we have been saving for! It’s as if some long-forgotten spending beast has awoken in me. Besides buying the necessary (ropes, radios, cameras, memory cards, underwear, dry bags, bags, nifty gadgets, LED lights, books, bikinis etc etc), I have been treating myself to the odd luxury with the self-explanation that “they won’t have this in the Pacific”!

There is a considerable reserve. We’ve been saving for some time because we hope to travel for some time. It is rather easy to feel like you’re rich when the bank account is looking, ahem, healthy.

But the realisation that I had been spurting cash unnecessarily hit me Saturday night when out on the town for a Hen’s Party. At the bar with my friend Jen who has recently returned from their circumnavigation, I was enticing her to share a bottle of bubbles, because:

SAARTJIE: …it’s the only drink I felt like drinking.*

JEN: Hmm. The bubbles here are a bit ridiculously expensive.**

S: But I think I might need to drink the bubble…

J (funny look): Gosh. You are going to have such a different experience to us crossing the Pacific drinking champagne!

S: Oh, but I’m only drinking it now because we probably won’t have champagne at sea.

I didn’t order the bubbles. Thanks Jen. I think I needed to articulate it to realise that “about to leave” should not equate to spendspendspend!

* Hmm. The power of self-deception.

** Yes they were: triple the retail cost.

just checking in

20 Jan

Today is clearly NOT my birthday any more. In fact, I cannot believe it’s been a whole jolly week since I last wrote on this here blog. Even more unbelievable is that we have just under two more jolly weeks until we leave… which should account for my writing absence.

Days have been filled with errands and tasks and ticking things off the list. Nights have been chockers with getting in kwality time with our loved ones. We also hosted a superb party* which ranks as one of my favourite times ever. If that is how our adventure begins, I can’t wait for more. (Not to fear, Sara dear, there will be plenty more. And soon!) 

* Stof keeps telling people it was a real “party, party”. This makes me smile every time. I think he means that it rocked the socks off all who attended and he was right.

doing, not feeling

10 Jan

I’ve been asked a lot lately how I’m feeling with a smidgen more than three weeks til we fly. Mostly I say that I’m feeling “very excited”. Except, I’m not feeling excited at all. Nor am I feeling apprehensive, or scared, or stressed, or happy, or sad.

It’s not that I don’t think that this time is exciting. Flip: I cannot imagine many times that are more exciting that I’ve experienced to date and I’m sure that I will look on this season as one of the most exhilarating of our lives. Mostly, though, it feels like I don’t have space to feel for all the doing that has been done.

To give you an idea, last week I (either with Stof or by myself) ticked the following off the to-do list:

  • pay boat yard
  • order kayak
  • set up excel sheet for boat expenses
  • distribute hard drives for movies on the boat
  • find (provisional) buyer for my car
  • follow up with work on boat in Mexico
  • close outstanding work accounts
  • set up sailing e-mail account
  • get day skippers ticket information in order (fill in log book, have eyes tested, passport photographs taken, collect certificate from sailing school, etc)
  • register radio licence
  • register epirb (not entirely successful)
  • investigate travel insurance
  • set up appointment for last health check-up
  • order waterproof casing for camera
  • book first aid at sea course
  • find spanish tutor
  • order specific toiletries
  • sail another 100 miles for stof’s skipper’s ticket qualification
  • AND we spent a bunch of time with friends and family…


I am so looking forward to my first bloody mary on the plane to Dubai, when I can sit back, put away my note book of things to do and just feel (excited, sad, apprehensive, relieved…).

Chat again when I’ve checked the next 20 items off the Must Do list!

Happy happy happy

6 Jan

Back in CT! Less than a month to go until we step onto the plane and join our Laura Takalani… We have one million-trillion things to Get Done before we depart, but: Hooray!

New Years was spectacular. It looked for a very long time like it might not be spectacular as it was raining in paradise and I was ill and feeling sorry for myself. I did all the things one SHOULD do to ensure a recovery (rest, vitamins, abstaining from bad-stuff) in time for our new years celebration and I continued to feel lousy, which was… lousy. Finally, at about 4pm on the 31st of December I decided to just drink through it. What a rousing success! What followed was one of the most marvellous new years celebrations. Ever. It involved masks and champagne* and dancing and laughter.

I continued a few fundamental New Years traditions that I have been following since I was a wee lass in Brazil for Rotary exchange. I wore a new white** frock, but I had run out of time to buy a new pair of panties prior to entering the Transkei, so one of my staples fell by the wayside this year. However, I did INSIST on traipsing down to the sea shortly after midnight and numerous “HhhhaaaAAPPY new years!” so that Stoffel and I could jump over seven waves and make seven wishes. I have done this every year since I was 17, and I figured it wasn’t a good idea to miss out on any rituals that might amuse the sea gods in the year in which we will be living on the sea.

As usual, I have no idea what wishes we made as the party was a goodie and there is no point in having a party for new years that actually enables remembering the wishes. Nevertheless, the wave-jumping-wishing box was ticked and I only wished for good things (of course). After making our seven jumps and seven wishes, Stof and I removed our masks (which we had crafted rather brilliantly earlier) and tossed them into the sea! It felt like a fitting offering and we were very pleased with ourselves:

…as you can see.

I wish you all a beautiful start to 2011. May this year be a year of passion and vision and (importantly) achieving that vision.

* Of course.

** Not quite white, actually… more of a greyish off-white. White will not be good to wear on a boat.

i’m a skip!

9 Dec

I pause the craziness to report the following:

I passed my day skipper’s exam. Hurrah! Hooray!

Even better: I beat The Brain (my matey Dr Andersod)… ok, I only pipped him by 1 percent, but what a sweet, sweet percent that is.

[My movements and that of headless chickens have a lot in common at the moment. Off to run around wildly again.]

i’ve got that funny feeling

30 Nov

I’m moving out of my office: today is my last official day as an advocate. I thought I would be feeling excited, relieved and maybe a little exhilarated. Those feelings are there… in theory.

In practice, I’m feeling slightly terrified. It’s the fear of change. In the midst of what may well be one of the most spectacular adventures of my life, I still have a small hankering for things to stay the same. A segment of my heart wants to carry on living my happy life in our gorgeous home (too late!) and taking our strange little pup for walks on our beautiful Table Mountain. I quite like sitting at my big lovely desk, bantering with colleagues and turning client’s complaints into legal writing. I’m sad for the wedding and baby parties we will miss and nostalgic for the dinners, braais and weekends away which we won’t share with our friends and family over the next few years.

It’s not so say that the trade-off doesn’t trump the unease hands-down every day. But I am a little surprised at the sadness too. When I think about its dispassionately, I am relieved to be a little melancholy: it must be a good thing to mourn a lifestyle that is blessed and blissful.

This will be my last post perched on my chair in chambers… farewell, this life. The Pacific passage draws a whole lot nearer.

[I will return with more Antarctica porn when things have settled. In addition to moving, I have some outstanding work to nail AND my skipper’s theory exam to pass this evening… tra-la-laaaa!]