Stranger in a Strange New World

11 May, 2020

‘Sailor’ is something I used to do

So, basically I am a sailor. People who know me or work with me will be happy to agree to that much but previously if I started to spread that description of my skillset out to other things like administration, blog writing or Youtube video creation they would start to get uncomfortable and point out that I could do it if I could be persuaded to sit down and concentrated and that I would often need ‘adult supervision’.
Not so now COVID 19 is part of our lives. Suddenly, people like me who earn their crust engaged in activities that bring them in close contact with groups of people are having to rethink and retool to survive this strange new world.  Suddenly ‘Sailor’ is something I ‘used’ to do, or at least may ‘do’ sometime once again in the future. Now I need to find something else to describe myself to survive the financial realities or this new situation.
In the past few months, I have had to accept that basically all of my business plans for 2020 with Spartan as a race/voyage charter company have gone out of the window. 2021 is also going to be a problem as it is going to be filled primarily with providing the events that were cancelled or postponed in 2020.
What to do with all this time and space?  Well, I would love to be in the position that I could just live a life of ease and wander the highways and byways of my country estate in quiet contemplation of the meaning of life- but the reality is there is no contingency fund big enough to account for the next two years of income being basically cancelled; plus there is no country estate, plus I’ve had far too much time alone as a solo sailor to think about such enormities as the meaning of life so I think I will leave that to someone else and instead just deal with what is in front of me. The reality of how do I, like millions of other people, survive this unprecedented situation.
The good news is that such pressure and changing circumstances is the bread and butter of offshore sailing and so I am not unaccustomed to having to turn my mental process on it’s head and set off in a new direction metaphorically in a split second.

Tack the boat

The clear choice for me was one that has been lurking in the wings for many years, and that is stepping up the output of my Podcast and Youtube content as ‘The Mariner’ and setting up an On-line Offshore Sail Training program that allows sailors to gain access to knowledge and advanced seamanship skills I have accumulated in 25 years at sea; without having to fly to the Caribbean to sail with me. The initial uptake on Patreon where the course is hosted has been good and I am enthused to continue learning to craft my skill as a video editor and creator.
This new direction has not been simple though. I am very lucky that there is a deserted barn across the road from my house which to date I have had permission to store old office and boat equipment in. The barn was last operational as a hay barn 20 years ago and time has not been particularly kind to it, but it was available, it had the space I needed to from a creator space to film and edit in and the farmer was amenable to a deal where I fixed up the barn in return for the option to take over the interior somewhat. Two weeks of hard work later I have made something I am pretty proud of and already starting using for recording podcasts and Seamanship Training content.
The first jobs were to clear the debris inside the barn, including the varied architectural offers of many generations fo rodent and avian life, then I fixed up some pretty large holes which saw me having to learn how to apply wooden ‘shakes’ to the side of the barn. After that, I fixed up the enormous main doors so they were secure, sweep out 100 years of dust of hay storage – Yuck! and scrub wooden floors that had been encrusted with the deposits from bird nests in the ceiling. After that, I moved all the heavy office furniture and workshop equipment around until on the second floor I had something approximating a new interpretation of our old office (which we discontinued using as we took everything on-line). Lastly, I had to wire in a basic electrical system so I could have lights, camera charing options, power for the computer etc and a very necessary heater by me feet to push back the barely-above-freezing conditions of Nova Scotia in the Spring.
So, was it worth it? It’s a meaningless question. Let’s try ‘Was it necessary?’ Yes, it was.  In such incredible times, we must all do whatever we can do to move forward by whatever methods present themselves. At the most basic level, all I have really done is rearranged the equipment that was stored in that building and cleaned it up.
The reality, of course, is 14 hours a day labour for two weeks which includes, of course, having to create media content each day to start powering the new enterprise I am envisioning. I am now aware that this process has been made much easier by the fact that I had a very positive attitude and could even have described it as pleasurable. Why? well, it would have been easy to have spent time lamenting the requirement to do so much just to survive, but my experience of sailing offshore has formed me into the kind of person for whom such situations can be approached with some magnanimity. I thought it was all going to go one way… now it’s not.  Ok, no problem. Tack the boat.

Adaptability

Today I think is the first day when I am basically, sort of, on top of what I need to be doing. The barn is now a pleasant place to go to, I have a schedule which is similar to the one I had when we had an office and so far so good the content seems to be getting a favourable audience.
I think the main lesson I have learnt from all this is that ‘Adaptability’ remains one of the most important and beneficial skills a person can have. Without it, the future is forever a source of anxiety as concern ebbs and flows about what may or may not occur.  For me and people who have this characteristic, I am always fortified by the knowledge that whatever comes I will adapt. Alloyed to this is the on-going knowledge that keeping a positive attitude is the fuel that enables adaptability to succeed. In such strange times, I hope that everyone can remain adaptable and upbeat about the opportunities that may present themselves deep in the middle of this far-ranging and long term crisis. Like me, I hope with some imagination, vision, elbow grease and grit you can rearrange whatever you already have available to you and create a way to move forward.

On-line Seamanship Program

The On-line Seamanship Program is available at PATREON.
The Podcast is available on Apple Podcasts as THE MARINER and the Youtube Channel with the same name continues to grow HERE