Lets call this the beginning.
We have twenty years or so of memories, and perhaps one day we will find time to write about some of them too. But for now, I want to tell you where we are, and where we are going.
Winter didn’t come until January this year, on the Baltic coast of Poland, and December was so warm that even the trees were confused and sprouted buds for Christmas. Siberian rivers were playgrounds for ducks, not ice fishermen, with the warmest winter in living memory. Meanwhile, America was in the grip of an arctic weather system, final proof for many scientifically challenged Fox News viewers that global warming is all a hoax.
There has been snow on the ground for weeks now, and life goes on as normal. In Poland people are used to winter. My Reception class insist on going outside in blizzard conditions; last year in Oxford, two centimetres of snow closed the country.
Living in Gdansk has been an education. Six months immersed in culture, hospitality, positivity, and the most balanced and justified national identity I know. The Polish are a strong people, with the common sense and independent minds of an older generation. Here people remember life under communism, before democracy, and they know how to manage a revolution. Nothing is taken for granted, and nothing expected for free.
Sophie’s family have taken me in as one of their own, and life has been fast paced and stimulating. I have learned new skills, a little Polish, and made some wonderful friends. Last summer Sophie and I decided to get engaged. When everything slows down a little, and we find time for our large and widespread families to all come together, we will get married. To know the Drapella family has been a humbling and inspiring experience, and I am excited to become a part of it.
Dariusz is Sophie’s father. He is deeply kind and slightly mad, and he creates opportunities. Being a sailor, this led him to sail around the world in possibly the greatest sailing race in history, to cruise with his wife and children on various yachts and ships in every ocean on the planet, and most recently to end up with a steady job as Captain on board BP’s flagship DP vessel in the North Sea.
But when the chance came to leave his prestigious job, and deliver a new prototype luxury catamaran from South Africa to the Caribbean, Dariusz created an opportunity. I don’t know how he did it (and I am deeply grateful to the vessel’s owner for his generosity) but somehow it happened: he is going to sail across the Atlantic for the 128th time, and he is taking us with him!
University has been procrastinated, resignations written, gear found and ordered, sailing books read and forgotten, diving courses bought and missed, excuses made, goodbyes said, and in three days we fly to South Africa.
After that, everything is uncertain, but for one thing – this is going to be one hell of an adventure.