“So, when are you guys headed to the Caribbean?”, Behan asked. My face tried to show that I’d never been asked that question before but in fact it was probably the 50th time that week. You see, when cruisers are together, there a few topics that are guaranteed to make it into the conversation at the cruiser pot luck dinner. First and foremost, the weather. How is the weather? How was the weather? How will the weather be? Where do you think the wind will be coming from and how strong will it be? This discussion is usually followed by something like; how long are you staying in this anchorage? – which you always seem to answer with “I’m not sure, it depends on the weather”. You can see how these topics can feed each other for hours, especially after a few rums. The next topic that will creep its way into the conversation is usually something like; so, where are you guys headed? What’s the big plan? How long will you be cruising for?
It was sometime in September 2015 in Nosy Be, Madagascar. We were at the local yacht club with SV Totem and a handful of other boats that had just crossed the Indian Ocean and were on their way to South Africa and beyond.
“Hmmm I’m not sure Behan…All we really know is we’re stoked to get to Cape Town and enjoy some time at the dock.” What I did know is that most boats were leaving for the Caribbean from South Africa around January 2016 but for us that seemed way too soon. We were planning on being in Cape Town by Christmas and from that time forward all we knew is we were ready to stay in one place for a while. To have a bit of a routine, to be grounded and have friends, to have familiarity for a bit. From the outside, I can clearly see how the cruiser lifestyle can be clouded with countless beaches, rainbows and sunsets with cocktails. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of the above but it all comes with a sacrifice. You are constantly on the move, thinking and planning around weather, considering the safety of your anchorage, figuring out the local language and sorting out parts for the countless things that are always breaking and then figuring out how to pay for the parts. And to top it off, you spend so much time away from friends and family, and just when you make good friendships in your current spot, it’s time to move on and say goodbye as the cyclone season is fast approaching.
“What about you guys?” I asked back, half knowing the answer. “We are leaving Cape Town around mid-February and plan to be back in the states by July next year!” Behan replied with a big smile. “Whoa! America!” I said back surprised. Being away so long I often think of the States as I used to think of the rest of the world; far away and very foreign. “What a crazy place” I told her with my eyes wide as if I was talking about some far off jungle in Asia. “So much to do and see, and it’s cheap! And your family and friends are there…” I went on for a while talking about America and all the cool things that I had heard about but never seen. I remember that conversation vividly and especially the excitement I felt about the prospect of being back home where everything was familiar.
Brian joined in on our conversation about the cruising life and familiarity, family, friends and the possibilities of where we were headed next. “Hey you could always just come back to Madagascar” Behan said, knowing how much Brian, Karin and I loved the country. We laughed it off and continued the party as we poured another rum.
Fast forward about 3 months and about 2,500 miles later. We made it to Cape Town by Christmas and settled into life tied to the dock. Normally, this is the time in the cruising season where we would leave Delos and go off to earn some cash for the next season of sailing. Whether it be writing code from Delos, random hospitality jobs, internships or super yachting; it had been the trend from the beginning. This season was different though, we decided to spend all our time and effort on Delos. We went full ahead, editing episodes and compiling a list of all that needed to be done! We have so much love for the amazing Delos Tribe around the world. Without you this journey wouldn’t be the same. Your support, combined with the exchange rate of the South African Rand, made the option of focusing on Delos and editing more episodes possible.
All that we had been craving was suddenly right in front of us. It didn’t take long for Brian, Karin and I to develop a routine alright. In fact, Delos didn’t even leave the dock for months on end. We quickly got into the “normal” life of waking up, going straight on the computer to edit videos, work on our T-shirt shop, answer e-mails, comments and messages, release videos to YouTube and Patreon, and of course film and enjoy a summer in Cape Town. The “office” hours would usually go on until we got what I like to call the “clicks”. That point where you’ve sat at the computer for far too long and you just start clicking randomly on the screen. Opening and closing emails and your web browser, searching for things on google then forgetting why you searched for them in the first place. Yea, the clicks can be a bitch. We’d then move onto boat projects and, holy shit, we had a lot of things to fix and repair. Delos is 16 years old now and so many things have failed or were about to fail. Countless hours were spent in the engine room, in the bilges, behind the cabinets, and up the mast, fixing, painting and getting Delos back into tip top sailing condition
Cape Town also turned into a great place for me to heal. While traveling non-stop and constantly being introduced to new environments, new experiences and new people, it can be hard to step back and take time for yourself. Moments of calm and reflection can be tough to find when there is always something new to do and experience. Cape Town gave me that time to really be one with myself. It’s tough going through a break up, especially when the relationship was as good as Josje and I’s. When she left Delos in Madagascar, I didn’t really fully process it until we got to Cape Town and settled in, whether subconsciously or not. I got into a routine in Cape Town, and took time for myself whether it was meditation, meeting up with friends, or taking the motorcycle for cruise. Slowly the Delos videos I was editing with Josje in them became much brighter and my inspiration for work turned to happiness. I am lucky to get to re-live the great times we shared together as I edit more episodes. There is no doubt in my mind that our paths of life are exactly
where they should be and both of us are living life with smiles, love, and laughter.
As the weeks blurred together and March was fast approaching, we kept getting asked the same question over and over. ”So, when are you guys leaving and where are you going?” By this point the 3 of us had gotten so used to dock life and so accustomed to all we were missing months earlier in Madagascar. We had the routine, the friends, and the familiarity we craved. We could walk to the store to buy groceries and fresh veggies, take long hot showers at the marina, treat ourselves to dinners out, party with new friends and leave Delos for a day or two knowing she would be safe in the marina. I even developed a Dad Bod. Apparently it’s from a lack of exercise and an excess of sitting in front of a computer consuming lots of food and beer. I’m told from a credible source (the same source that diagnosed my dad bod) that my dad bod is IN right now and in high demand. So I’m pretty happy about that.
Me reppin’ my dad-bod along side Karin and her mum
Before our eyes, Delos turned from a world cruising boat, where we had to conserve everything, to a very small floating apartment with unlimited power and water. Those things we craved so much. The comfort, the easiness, the convenience started becoming less and less special. We found ourselves asking each other; are we really ready to get to the Caribbean and the States? Are we ready for constant convenience and simplicity? The same things that we craved months earlier were now becoming a reason not to keep heading west into the Caribbean and America. A perfect example of the grass always being greener on the other side. It almost felt like we were about to head west just because that’s what you’re supposed to do once you have rounded the Cape of Good Hope. You surely weren’t supposed to sail East around one of the most dangerous capes in the world, in the opposite direction. But it took so much work to get to this part of the world. To make it to the Indian Ocean is not an easy task, especially if leaving from the West coast of the states. It took over 6 years to get this point covering over 30,000 miles. It took a while for the three of us to come to terms with what our minds had already made up, but we finally made the decision to leave Cape Town in May of 2016. We were to head East, back to Madagascar and the Indian Ocean for one more lap of the unknown, the tough, and the unconventional. Once that decision was made, the weeks started flowing even faster as we had a goal in our minds. Our focus turned to planning our next cruising season into the Southern Indian Ocean. The to-do list slowly got smaller as we worked day and night on Delos.
Meanwhile, through some friends of ours, I met an awesome girl. Camilla was in Cape Town on a little break from studying medicine in Sweden and just so happened to be visiting her family on their sailboat at the same marina as Delos in Cape Town. Camilla and I hung out in Cape Town for the month that she was there having what I thought was the most normal beginning of a relationship I had experienced in a long time. We did the normal things I think most land lubbers do; went to dinners, comedy shows, movies and hikes. The time flew by and Camillia was headed back to Sweden to continue her studies as a medical student. At that point, Brian, Karin and I were just waiting on parts to arrive and the other work could be done from literally anywhere with an internet connection and my laptop. So, I decided to say fuck it and fly to Sweden for a few weeks, leaving Delos, Brian and Karin for the first time in over a year. As I was leaving Cape Town, I remembered my visa extension stamp hadn’t been put into my passport yet. In the South African Home Affairs system, I had been granted another 90 days of stay, so of course, there shouldn’t be a problem once they look up my passport number… or so I thought. Well, that was stupid to assume. As I tried to talk my way out of the situation with immigration, I was declared “undesirable” at the airport and kicked out of South Africa. Why would a country not have the immigration computer at the airport linked with the database in the capital? TIA (This is Africa), I said to myself as I was told I wasn’t allowed back in the country for 1 year. Thoughts raced through my head of making a run for Delos. Or even flying back from Sweden to a neighboring country like Botswana or Namibia and sneaking across the border; or even having Delos pick me up in a bordering country. Luckily we had a friend in Cape Town who helped us get our visa extensions and happened to be an immigration lawyer! I love how the smallest things or chance meetings make a big impact later in life. My 10 day planned trip to cold snowy Sweden turned into almost a month, as papers were filed and I once again became “desirable”. Although it was cold, I can’t say it was a bad month. I love seeing new cultures and experiencing cold weather. It really reassures me that choosing a life on the warm ocean is for me. The awesome news is Camilla will be on break from her University soon and will be coming to sail with us while in the Indian Ocean.
So here I sit, somewhere in the Southern Indian Ocean south of Madagascar, sailing East towards La Reunion. I am surrounded by awesome people, including our new crew contest winners from South Africa. We have only been out at sea for 6 days now and I can already feel the seahab working its magic. I am sleeping good, eating good and laughing a lot. All the land “problems” and stresses that come with being so connected all the time have melted away. It’s crazy the amount of work we did in Cape Town in front of the computer and I find it hard to come to terms with how much time was spent using the internet. It baffles me how many times I checked my emails a day, and how I would check how many likes or comments a certain post would get on Facebook. I got stressed over things as trivial as a forgotten e-mail or a slow internet connection. It was all noise at the end of the day and made the weeks melt together like hours. But now, at sea, it has gone silent. The noise of the connected world has faded and time has slowed down to normal pace again.
We have come to Dr. Ocean and we are forced to relax, breathe, read, write and most importantly, adapt to and listen to nature. If the wind is blowing, we sail fast, if it’s not, we go slow and bob around. The uncontrollable aspect of it all takes the weight off our shoulders. If the sun is shining and our solar panels are putting power in, then we can pull out the laptop and work on the next Delos episode or just lay on deck. Eventually, we will come across internet again, things on Delos will break and I will stress over things that don’t deserve it. Life will get noisy for a while, but I know the sea will always be there to quiet my mind just as it has silenced the past 6 months in only 6 days. I feel so blessed and grateful to be able to see and experience all aspects of life, and ride the ups and downs as they come. I’ve learned too much of one thing is bad and you will never appreciate the sunsets with out the storms. The key to appreciation is balance and moderation.
For more sailing adventures check out svdelos.com