Saturday, 20 October 2007

A Firm Foundation

"To be truly challenging, a voyage, like a life, must rest on a firm foundation of financial unrest. Otherwise, you are doomed to a routine traverse; the kind known to yachtsmen, who play with their boats at sea - 'cruising', it is called. Voyaging belongs to seamen, and to the wanderers of the world who cannot, or will not, fit in. If you are contemplating a voyage and have the means, abandon the venture until your fortunes change. Only then will you know what the sea is all about. 'I've always wanted to sail to the South Seas, but I can't afford it.' What these men can't afford is not to go. They are enmeshed in the cancerous discipline of 'security'. And in the worship of security. We fling our lives beneath the wheels of routine - and some form of working activity that yields a sense of accomplishment. That's all - in a material sense, and we know it. But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up in a tomb beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry, and playthings that divert our attention from the sheer idiocy of the charade. "The years thunder by. The dreams of youth grow dim where they lie caked in dust on the shelves of patience. Before we know it, the tomb is sealed. "Where, then, lies the answer? In choice. Which shall it be: bankruptcy of purse or bankruptcy of life?" - Sterling Hayden: Wanderer 

This quote fits perfectly into my present state of being. I’m glad Sterling Hayden wraps being broke in such heroic package. It definitely makes me feel better. 

I have a strange relationship with money. Right now, I have enough to pay for one more month of moorage at the marina where I hope to be for the winter and most of the insurance that should have been deducted already but hasn’t been for some reason. That’s all. None left for food or anything else. And no idea where any more will come from. 

I hope to sell some more of my stories and photos, but there is no guarantee. Perhaps manna will fall from the sky? Speaking of manna, I do have some pasta, rice and TVP (textured vegetable protein) flakes, olive oil, almost a pound of flour and some odds and ends, such as tea, coffee, powder milk, and beef bouillon. Not much else. The camping gas is running out, so I’ll have to buy some and I’ll have to pay for internet access when my remaining eight hours runs out, at nearly 3 euros per hour, so that I can send away my manuscripts. 

Yet it’s not always like this. The last time I went to town, I walked by a shop where four months ago I bought a dress, and a pair of shorts. Not expensive, only about 30 Euros for both, but still. I wore the dress once and the shorts never. Back on the boat, I note a 20-euro lipstick. Another one for 10 euros is in my purse. I know I can get perfectly good lipstick for one Euro, but I wanted a brand name one to show off. Where I don’t know. I think I do this, because I get tired of practical boating clothes and this is perhaps my way of rebelling, of saying, I want it all, and damn it, I’m going to have it all. And so now and then, I want to wear heels, make up, perfume, and an impractical dress that gets dirty just by putting it on. 

My coffee is running out and so are the filters, yet I make each cup separately instead of two cups at a time, which would halve my filter usage. I have started to boil a thermos full of water at a time to save on gas, and today for the first time I made two loaves of bread instead of one. I tried to sell my violin that I haven’t used more than once or twice. Perhaps I’ll have to play it (badly) on the street for spare change one of these days. 

I advertised for crew to come live on board (shared expenses) but no one has responded. It’s winter after all and most people are either back at school, at work or somewhere warm. I decided to stay in Greece this winter because I thought I’d be able to work here, but there is no work when the tourists are gone. Besides, Greeks get priority and I don’t even speak the language. 

I thought, I would be able to find a good safe and free moorage, but only two places have power, which I need for heat and my laptop, and both are marinas that charge 300 euros a month for a boat 10m long. I should be able to earn 15 Euros a day, but so far, I’m struggling. $475US for two articles is barely 340 Euros. I have been writing for the past three weeks steady and have taken the last two days off because I’m empty. I feel drained and spent. 

Time to regroup by reading some sailing magazines. I know I can write what is in those magazines; I just need to gather the photos and hope the publishers can fit me in. In addition, I need to find more magazines to send away to. I know I can do this. 

And so, as I drink my cup of coffee and eat fresh focaccia bread straight from the oven, I think to myself that life is not so bad; I don’t have to anchor out and freeze yet. I might have to later, but I’ll do whatever it takes to make it through the winter first. Come April, I’ll be out again anchoring or tied up to a free dock without heat, but until then, I’m cinching up my belt another notch. 

Sterling Hayden would approve.