It has now been three weeks in La Coruna. I guess it's become a self-fulfilling prophecy that I would end up here for winter... As I've said before, every major port I arrive in, I admit defeat and proclaim that I'm stopping, getting a job, and getting a haircut. Somehow I've managed up until here, but La Coruna clearly has some kind of magnetic anomaly which has me glued to the waters surface. I had however triumphantly proclaimed earlier this week that I'd had it, I was going south regardless of all my worldly problems: I still had one tiny trick left up my sleeve, which was to call Lloyds Bank, and somehow convince them I really needed the ₤90's worth of overdrawn fees returned to my account. I had a long forgotten automated transaction take me to to a 'whopping' ₤18 in the red, which resulted in this incredible overdraw penalty. I also had the fortune of a secret cheque in my name, to the tune of ₤125, yet it was useless if cashed onto an account already in the negative. This lone cheque was the result of the local Esso factory in Bursledon spilling it's black soot all over the boatyard I was in, entitling me to compensation to clean the boat. Good friends from the yard filled in the forms for me, and collected the cheque on my behalf, but I had no way of cashing it. I was really trying to avoid a bad credit record in the UK, so I had been pondering that I might cash it anyway, to get rid of my 'debt'... To cut a lengthening story short, I knew if I could get the fees back, cash the cheque, plus the €50 marina key deposit, I could release myself from these pontoon shackles, and edge further south in search of more good luck, and heaven forbid, maybe even a small job. But unfortunately, after telling you my most private banking secrets and hidden cheque stories, there is no triumphant or happy ending. Sometimes when you're about to hit a brick wall, you actually do.
Which brings me to my next thoughts on the topic; of why I mention all this... I often think back to the days when I dreamt all of this up, and just really had no idea how I could make it happen. You read the same story over and over again, about someone doing something on large sponsorship, a good pension, or simply a lot of money. I guess I'd like my story to be about the person who tried to do too much with too little. I tell you not of my woes in hope for a step up (but I am incredibly honoured when granted one), but rather to chronicle things for myself and others, and ultimately to be one of the limited success stories in small boat, small funded and independent long distance sailing. While I may make out that things are difficult (and mostly they are, but on a relative scale), the truth of the matter is, I would not have it any other way. Someone said to me the other day 'if it really gets too hard, why not just sell up and leave'? I've never thought of doing that - I've thought of what I might do if I sank the boat, (which if you're wondering, would be to start walking home, or buy another one) but very little energy has been dedicated to the subject of selling up. Besides, if I did that, then what would I do?
I say all this, to prep you (and maybe myself...) for the news that I simply cannot continue this year, and I will be staying in La Coruna, working, and building my own ideas into things that will power me forward, as early as possible next year. Up until now I have avoided saying the final 'this is it, I'm staying put', because I've always secretly held out that something would happen. But in my quiet reflections on the situation, I was honest with myself, and admitted that without sizable cash injection, even if I did manage to get out of here, I'd quite simply get stuck a little further down the coast, yet again. I also came to the conclusion that I was really happy to have come this far, and also felt good that I could sit back and stop for a minute, knowing that I had tried as hard as I possibly could to get here.
So what now? Well, I may not be able to sail, but I will never rest! I have my own ideas and projects to work on, and I hope to get enough paid work to keep me nourished and in good spirits (if you need any web development work, be sure to hit me up!). Over the next few months, I'll tell you all about what I'm working on, what I've been doing, and about future additions my sailing project. This entire idea has always been bigger than myself, and I hope to keep it that way with some slight additions and route changes.
Thanks so much to everybody for your help and encouragement in getting this far. Everywhere I go, people are helping in every way they can, and it's almost arrogant to say that I sail singlehanded. I hope my temporary defeat is not disappointing to you all, and I trust on prior experience, you know that any admission of 'defeat' is closely coupled with the word 'temporary' - I will get home, on a small boat, alone and with much gusto!