Into the Baltic


Note: This was originally from my hand-written journal, written on 19 August. I copied it to the computer, changed it to the past tense and edited/added a few things here and there...

We crossed through the Falsterbokanalen a few hours after leaving Clint in Malmö, officially entering the Baltic Sea ('Östersjön' in Swedish), by my estimation anyway...not sure where it officially starts or ends, but that seemed a convenient enough place. For the first time I looked at, studied really, the chart showing the whole of Sweden - all of the Baltic and Kattegat on the west coast, plus the Gulf of Bothnia ('Bottenhavet' in Swedish) which extends north from Åland between Sweden and Finland.

I think I knew this before, but I never really 'knew' it until today, the sheer number of places we can sail to from our new base in Stockholm. Denmark of course, which we've been in sight of for the first week in Sweden. Germany (cool!). Poland (forgot that one). Latvia, Lithuania (I know nothing about that country), Russia (Russia!), and of course Finland. It's four hundred miles right the way to the top of Sweden, far into the Arctic in Bothnia. One day...

Germany was off to starboard somewhere as I thought these thoughts. I had just set the genoa again after motoring for an hour or so in mirror-flat calm. The sailing was very challenging that night. Shifty wind and ships all about. And we were kind of hemmed in by the south coast of Sweden to our north and the main shipping channel a few miles to the south, tacking against a light easterly. In a way, the wind from the east was okay - when it is that light, the only way to make any headway is into it.

Before I gave in and motored I had hand-steered for a while, the wind too light for Sune the Driver (our windvane), which is saying something. He normally steers in any conditions, so long as we have some way on. The sea was glassy, so there must have been some tickle of breeze aloft, in the sails. It eventually filled in a bit better and we started making five knots to the ESE. I tacked back away from the shipping lanes before Mia came up for her watch.

I ate my one square of chocolate for the day, literally as the clock struck midnight to announce the new day. I was tired. And I followed it up with a big mug of hot chocolate with enough honey for a week to try and jolt me awake (for those of you smirking at the admission of me actually drinking hot cocoa, rest assured it wasn't the packaged kind with those mini marshmallows. I wouldn't touch the stuff, it's too artificial. Instead, I make mine with 100% cocoa powder mixed in boiling water with a bit of milk and a lot of honey, my healthy alternative. I've been told it tastes like shit). I had taken Mia's watch as we exited the canal because she wasn't comfortable with all the ships around and wanted me to 'get the boat settled in.' I must admit that I enjoyed it.

I'm slowly realizing that in my career and in my life I need to start enjoying the process more rather than the result. I like night watches regardless of how tired I am. And seeing my name in print in a big magazine is very cool, but the process of losing myself as I'm writing whatever is going to appear there is why I started writing in the first place. It's not a job for me. I'd been writing long before I ever got paid for it (though that's a nice added bonus). Same goes for the marathon - race day is just another long run. I need to enjoy all of the one's leading up to it, otherwise what is the point?

Along those lines, when it comes to career, how much do you compromise to get ahead? Is the best way to exclusively stick to your passions and never compromise? Or is it okay to take on some projects you might not do otherwise because it's a good opportunity career wise? I struggle with that sometimes (Mia thinks I think about it too much. She's probably right).