Of Mice and Men. Also known as “life is what happens to you whilst you are making plans”.
The plan is to sail Frank to Texas, from her berth in Gosport Marina on the south coast of England, after the 2014 hurricane season. Rather than venture entirely alone, I have signed up for the ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers) which takes me from The Canaries to St Lucia, and thence to Texas via the BVI, Antigua or wherever.
So I need to sail her south “until the butter melts” and then hang a right. Before then, I need to do some stuff! Like prepare.
But first – how did we arrive at this juncture?
I set myself a goal, perhaps 20 or more years ago, to buy a boat and sail her around the world. I had resolved to do this when I was 55. As my career and life progressed and regressed, I held into this dream, but was resigned to it being unrealisable. The whole plan was to make enough to pay off the mortgage, get my son through his education, buy a boat and then do the sailing bit.
By March 2010 I was 52, living in a ludicrous Massachusetts McMansion in a broken marriage with outrageous monthly outgoings. All my own doing. I was also embarking on a start-up business, Mi-Token Inc., so my income was about to take a big hit. My hard-earned savings were gone, the house was under water by a mile, and I had burned through $1m in four years. My son Conrad was now at MIT, and the bills just kept coming. But I never let go of my dream.
I used to think to myself – “squeak squeak squeak – that is me on the hamster wheel, the soundtrack to my life”.
Finally, some dude and his wife bought the house. The bank (Chase, I hate you) made a fortune out of me but I scrabbled together the cash, sold for a $300k loss, packed my Jeep and towed a trailer with motorbike, BBQ and patio heater out of the drive at midnight on October 4th 2010.
18 hours later I was in Austin, Texas. I made a video of the trip, which I shall post.
Three years of renting, building the business and struggling. The boat was disappearing over the horizon.
July 2012 was awful. My brother John killed himself. I was on a business trip, in Tokyo and had planned to be in the UK in a few days to talk him up, but I did not know how imminent the end was. That knocked the stuffing out of my Dad, Frank.
Dad went downhill. He and I managed to spend a lot of time together in the following months and my sister Anne and Brother-in-Law Geoff were wonderful to him. Dad died on March 18th, 2013. We were shocked at the speed of it all, but he was tired and worn out. And, thank heavens, he was not at the mercy of “the social”, nor did he suffer the indignity of being dumped in a home.
Frank is my way of taking my Dad sailing around the world, even if he was happy to never set sail on the high seas again in his lifetime, after 22 years in the Royal Navy.