As I write this a brisk south westerly wind is moaning through the rigging and is buffeting the boat. I am ready to reach out to grab the coffee pot on the stove should the uneven swell threaten to topple it. Our wee yacht tugs and strains on her lines and I notice that I adjust naturally to these movements, something I am well used to by now.
We have been living on our yacht since the beginning of 2012 having totally downsized and decluttered our combined 100 years worth of living. It both amazed and horrified me at how much 'stuff' we had accumulated and held onto simply because we could not bear to throw it all away. There were literally dozens of cardboard packing boxes filled to the brim with papers, books, keepsakes, photos, trinkets, school reports, children's drawings, old letters and so much more. There was the clutter of household furniture and the general accoutrements too, belongings that seem so important, so crucial for modern living. All of this had to go.
It took a couple of months of hard physical work to clear our home of all our belongings. This involved myriad runs to the local charity shops, car boot sales and sadly many visits to the council recycling centre. What worked best though was setting up a table by our garden gate where folks wandering past could help themselves to whatever we placed out there. This way we knew that many of our more treasured possessions were going on to to happy homes.
There was an emotional challenge to this process too. Many items that we parted with held deeper meanings for us and it was painful to let them go. We rationalised this sense of loss by accepting the reality that most, if not all the more intimate items we were letting go, had not actively featured in our lives for many years - they had merely lain where we had packed them in their relative boxes gathering dust. In fact by unearthing, rediscovering them and handling them before giving them away, we reconnected with their significance in a way that meant their memories would be carried on with us.
The huge task of downsizing complete, we finally closed the door on our old home at the beginning of January in 2012 and moved onto our 27' yacht. Immediately we felt a lightness and a sense of relief at having unburdened our lives of so many unneeded possessions. Our lives from that point on have been immeasurably simpler and unencumbered by 'stuff'. We live each day with what we need and if it is not needed we pass it on or recycle it. We no longer buy things because we are seduced by the marketing or the promise of an easier life. Instead we enjoy our saved income in other more fulfilling ways.
How does this fit in with the sea kayaking journey ahead of me? I think the connection here is the further exploration of my desire for simplicity in my life. One of the main draws for me in sea kayaking as a method of exploring the natural world is the aesthetically simple method of travel. It is about how I journey through the world with only what I can carry. Where all I need to be comfortable, safe and happy is with me in my kayak.
This is true of my life - our life - now, on our boat. All we have in our lives is all that we truly need - and this is not very much.