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.

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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.

today is my birthday

12 Jan

I just wanted to let you know…

I walked (and breakfasted) on the mountain with my husband and dog; lunched with my girlfriends; and picnicked and watched Shakespeare in the park* with my family. A tremendous day!

31. Such a quirky number. I’m no mathematician, but I do appreciate a prime number (especially when they’re few and far between these days). 30 was tough and gritty, but full of planning and waiting and anticipation. 31 must be full of living.

* Taming of the Shrew. Frothy and light.

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…

Whew.

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.

disappearing…

26 Dec

I hope you had a beautiful Christmas. Ours was pretty flippin’ marvellous!

Stoffel and I are now on our way to Bulungula for our traditional new years of beach party and mates. It will take a small road trip to get there and back and we’re looking forward to the time together to run over what still needs to be done. There is barely cellphone reception in the T-kei, let alone loads of internet access… so I’m logging off until the new year.

Happy 2011.

people of the south

21 Dec

I’ve been wanting to write one last post about Antarctica. Because (for me) it wasn’t all about the open spaces and beauty and delicious food and luxury. I am fascinated by people, so I was so interested to see how the bases work. The White Desert camp is not far from a Russian Antarctic station and the (a?) Indian base.

On our second afternoon, we saw an approaching ski-doo that looked like it had waaaayyy too many people hanging on to it. Sure enough, it was the Indians! They’d souped up their ski-doo such that it took an extra 5 people (or so) than the normal 3 (maximum) seater. Gotta love the Indians.*

They’d come to have their picture taken with Jenna. She’s quite famous cos there aren’t too many women stationed in ‘Tartica. Having Your Picture Taken With Jenna is (apparently) an important annual fixture in the Indian Antarctic Base calendar.

After Jenna was all snapped out, Ali and I insisted on having our pic taken with some of the team too. At first they were somewhat disappointed to have Ali in the picture, but then after we gave them beers and told them that Ali’s best mate is Gary Kirsten who coaches the Indian cricket side, then we were all the very best of friends!

The next day, instead of making a small journey to visit a penguin colony, a bunch of us elected to do the 12km trek from our camp, through the Indian camp to the Russians.

The Indian base wasn’t very beautiful. Nobody came rushing out to feed us rogan josh (or some other delicacy). The wind was icy-icy. So we moved on.

On our way the Ilyusion flew over us on its way back to Cape Town from the Novo runway. That second pic is my desktop setting at the moment. I just can’t get enough of it.

Trusty guide Stef quickly figured out that in South Africa we have a lot of rock and hills and stones. but we do NOT have a lot of ice and snow. With this in mind, he carefully selected our route to the Russians.

Arriving at the Russian base is fairly surreal. It’s perched on a hillock on the rock oasis and it looks a little like one might imagine an outpost on the moon to look.

One can take an informal ‘tour’ around an exceptionally chilly museum of Russian tanks from the Cold War.

The tanks are taken to the ice shelf by boat and then they drive them across the +/- 80km of shelf ice. Or so I’m told. It was pretty cool.

Then we came across a pole that looked like it could have been the South Pole! (It wasn’t, of course. The real south pole is a darn side more southerly and looks like a candy pole with a big round mirror globe on top with an enormous concrete American base next door where (I’m told) they don’t invite you in for tea or coffee if you have spent months crossing the Antarctic on foot (or otherwise).)

We didn’t recognise too many places. All of them seemed to be a jolly far way away and in the same kind of direction. Except, of course, for the arrow at the top of the pole and our Russian was far from sufficient to decide whether it pointed to the south pole or the other Russian base!

We hung around for a while, drank some tea (thank you, Russians, for giving us tea) and ate some chocolate (thank you, Stef, for carrying the chocolate for us).

Then we were driven back across the ice to our camp by the guy still wearing all his cold-weather gear in a heated car.

At first we laughed at him (“those Russians!”). Then we slowly and sheepishly put all our stuff back on because this guy might have know something about the risk of the car falling into a crevasse and having to lie in the ice that we didn’t know…

*Of course, if the South Africa base had been closer, it could have been either a South African or an Indian ski-doo… We also quite fancy transport that carries more people than it was originally intended to carry.