This title quote by travel writer Paul Theroux had always seemed foreign to me, but having been on the boat for 16 months this sentiment is now taking on greater meaning.
Whilst it might conceivably have been felt at Christmas when I returned to the UK, in reality nearly everyone goes to some version of ‘home’ at this time of year (even if it’s to the in-laws) so this didn’t feel unusual.
It was only when I recently visited home from Rio de Janiero that I felt a connection to the statement. Not simply because I was going home, but due to the deeper emotional undertow involved.
Living on a relatively small boat with three other people is intense. I’ve sailed with my own family enough to know that even with people you know intimately the close-quarters environment can become suffocating.
The Sea Wolf dynamic is interesting as the longest I’ve known any of the crew is a little under 2 years. But I already feel I know them better than people I’ve known most my life. I tend to think of it in terms of dog years, i.e. one year afloat is the equivalent to seven on land.
Work aboard Sea Wolf is rarely taxing or difficult. But whilst I get plenty of time ‘off’, there is still a physical attachment of elastic quality to the boat, and by extension the people on it. In 16 months I have been back to the UK twice. Both times this has felt overdue. For me it seems to be about the need to confirm the existence of the status quo back home, principally authenticating relationships with family and close friends.
But it did feel a little strange being in Rio, with all the possibilities this presented, yet yearning to return home. I had just grown tired of the boat and of my place amongst those I share it with.