My husband is doing the Sydney to Hobart race this year and I really hope he makes it to Hobart this time. We have two unfinished Hobarts between the two of us. Mine was interrupted by a rudder bearing when we barely made it out of the habour. James’s boat made it half way there before a decision was made to abandon the race for numerous reasons including a ripped mainsail. We probably owe our entire relationship to my failed Hobart as we hadn’t talked much before it, and sailing is something we will always have in common.
Except this year I did very little sailing (mostly twilights) and he got an opportunity to get on a boat that’s going to Hobart. I am excited for him, and the decision not to sail much was entirely mine, yet sometimes I feel acutely that something’s missing in my life and I ache for it, all of it: the sea, the sails, the friendly banter on board, the scramble during gybes, even the tiredness after the race. The club and the beer. Admittedly, I miss offshore sailing much less than harbour races; I would even say I don’t miss it at all except for an occasional twitch of regret which goes away as I remind myself of seasickness, the cold at night, the seemingly never ending hours of staring at spinnakers.
James serviced my PFD for his own use and bought a new PLB. He got some new wet weather gear. All his offshore stuff is scattered all over the floor of our daughter’s bedroom and when I tell her that Daddy went sailing she just assumes he must be fishing, too, which is an activity she really enjoys.
Meanwhile, I got several reminders that my Sea Safety and Survival certification expired so I’d have to do it again if I decided to go back to offshore sailing. And somehow it seems even further from me than the first year when Riley was a newborn and I was trying to figure out how to survive day by day with a tiny (and often unsettled) baby.
Yet I don’t really have any regrets. Yes, I miss sailing, more than other things I don’t really do any more (such as staying out late or going away by myself for too long or even getting drunk) but it’s also the right thing for me to do right now.
This year has been tough in many ways. Early in the year I found out I am slowly going blind in one eye. Riley broke her leg. And not that long ago I had a miscarriage, something almost nobody talks about as if it’s something shameful even though it’s pretty common and completely out of control of the woman who goes through it.
And right now our beautiful state of NSW is on fire. We are in severe drought which makes fires so much worse, and the smoke is so bad it makes air toxic when Sydney is covered with it. The air quality in Sydney has never been as bad as it was this week – they even had to cancel the Big Boat Race due to lack of visibility in the harbour.
Yet when I think of the year that’s almost gone I also think how everyday life has been beautiful and enjoyable in a lot of ways. I did a lot of thinking and reading, some relationships developed further, I feel more comfortable in my own skin at work. But most of all, I think of Riley, how funny she is now, how much we talk, of simple things but also some more complex things, how we play “tunnel” while “shoo fly” is on repeat. And I think of my husband who constantly forgets why he went to the kitchen and loses his wallet but who’s also been most caring, easy-going, supportive man. And I laugh because after spending a lot of time on self improvement, study and work I found myself agreeing with all those annoying people who say that having kids is the most challenging but also the most rewarding thing you can do with your life but also because it’s easy to step away from something you love when you find something that you love even more.