For the past five years I’ve averaged about 200 days/year at sea in some of the most remote regions of the world. And so it’s been a welcome change of pace to spend the last 115 days ashore. It was remarkable to see the seasons fade from the last of the warm, sandy August beach days, to the first of the frost-edged and bitter winter days that beg for the warmth of a wood stove.
The joys of home for me include time with family and friends, cooking, enjoying a cup of coffee in my PJs in the mornings, running, surfing, yoga, and long hikes with the dog; all the while working on my own schedule – at my own desk – to prepare for the upcoming season at sea.
Work travel took me to Toronto, New York City, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., and out to California for a week where I tacked on wine tastings with family and hikes with friends.
I spent a magical week in the Florida Keys enjoying a reunion of dear friends there, and time in the height of the harvest season in Ohio with my sister. I even visited Nantucket Island last weekend, way out there in the Atlantic, but all wrapped up in cheerful Christmas trimmings.
And the miles, the places and the many reunions with friends and family reinforced the concept that adventure does not have to take place in far-flung locations, but can be found near to home as well.
But now it is time to leave again, and nothing is as bittersweet in this life I have carved out for myself. The never-ending welcomes and farewells can be an emotional rollercoaster of social decorum riding on top of deep sentiments.
None-the-less, I ship out this week to reach New Zealand and her Sub-Antarctic Islands. These are places I know well and look forward to seeing again. There have been times when the shock of green and red on a Southern Rata tree and the crystal clear call of a New Zealand Bellbird have felt akin to home. Especially after long stretches on the steel-gray sea without the rich colors, sounds and smells of the earthen world.
And so, as you enjoy the holiday season and sip an eggnog in your favorite cozy chair, think of our small ship on the big Southern Ocean braving the Roaring Forties and the Furious Fifties of the southern hemisphere. We will be skirting the Antarctic Convergence in search of whales, seals, albatross, penguins and unforgettable landscapes that very few people have ever laid eyes on.
The reds and greens of my holiday season this year will be on New Zealand’s Rata and Pōhutukawa trees, but I will surely be thinking of home.
Seasons Greetings (and Farewells)