Ticking off bucket lists, not to do lists.

We all have our day to day to do lists, and more importantly we have our bucket lists.  This week I took a small step towards ticking another item off my own bucket list- learning to sail. It wasn’t a technical sailing lesson as such – more being in a small boat while we hoped for more wind and less thunder and lightning, but it was a start.  Often the first step is the hardest to take but from there everything gets going.

I’ve been around boats pretty much all my life.  Growing up in the north east of England in the 1980s we didn’t have a car until I was 10 or 11, but we did have a fishing boat, the Pentagon.  My dad bought an old hull and built the rest himself.  My dad has always loved his boats and maybe my love of being on the water is in my blood, but I’m not a north sea fisherman by any stretch of the imagination.   A lot of time has passed since those days as a 7 or 8 year old child with a bad haircut sitting in our small dinghy with its small four horsepower outboard slowly put-putting across the often cold and grey River Blyth, heading out to the Pentagon’s moorings set against the unmistakable coal industrial era backdrop of Blyth’s four chimneyed power-station and Victorian staithes.  35 years later here I am sailing in the bay of Gibraltar at sunset having left behind a myriad of local small sailing and motor vessels, together with stunning international super-yachts moored at Mid-harbours and Queensway Quay.  This is a very different backdrop that my own 7 and 8 year old children have to their childhood.  They have no idea how lucky they are.

Queensway Yachts Sunset
Queensway Quay, Gibraltar, 2017
The Pentagon, Blyth, Northumberland, c1984

Over the years I have spent a lot of time in or on the water.  In my 20s and 30s I loved to waterski and fairly quickly became a decent mono-skier in Sri Lanka – avoiding the odd crocodile along the way.   In Thailand I learned to wakeboard, and became a qualified PADI Rescue Diver – avoiding the odd shark along the way.  It’s been years since I’ve done any of these, but now we’re staying in Gibraltar I need to get organised and take more advantage of having the Mediterranean on my doorstep.  It would be rude not to.

One thing that has linked all my waterborne activities has been having excellent company to do them with.  It makes such a difference.  When waterski-ing we used to get up at ungodly hours on a Sunday morning to be out on the water by sunrise (often difficult – especially after a big night out) but once we were there it was always worth the effort.  Just getting out and doing something exciting and active, especially on or around water, is one way that makes life great fun – for me anyway.  This is what life in Gibraltar offers and I’m very excited about making that a regular part of my life. 

This week I was the greenhorn in a small vintage ‘victory’ sailing boat, with no real idea as to what was going on.  But I love that I was out there learning something new again.   New terminology, new experiences, new concepts, pushing new boundaries and enjoying good company.  Embracing life. Mr BOTR had to go the extra level of course and last week managed to sail to Africa on a yacht for his maiden voyage – very lucky him! Next year I’ll complete some serious sailing qualifications and you never know one day we may all be jumping up and out of bed, getting on our boat early in the morning to enjoy sailing the day away, before returning happy and content to enjoy a glass of wine or two on this big Rock we call home.  It’s our duty to dream big and make those bucket lists happen.


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