Saturday, February 09, 2008


We humans perhaps more than any other members of the animal kingdom have the faculty for anticipation; we can think of possible circumstances before they may occur and we can make provision before they happen. Without this ability of planning according to possibilities none of the great adventures such as walking to the South Pole, or climbing Everest would have been successful. Yachtsmen like Francis Joyen, or Robin Knox-Johnston who have succeeded in breaking records by sailing around the world single-handed in the fastest times are masters of anticipation. They leave nothing to chance; every detail is examined and considered for fitness for purpose – their boat, gear, food and water, the route, the likely weather and preparation for the sailor himself.

Joyen must have anticipated that he would have to undergo heat in the tropics, ice coldness in the Southern Ocean and calm seas in the Doldrums, coupled with frustrations through lack of progress, sleep deprivation and continuous motion with no respite for the body. In view of his experience as a lone sailor prior to his recent triumphant record-breaking circumnavigation his anticipatory mind must have done overtime in overdrive before setting off from France on the epic adventure. In view of a smaller and less demanding adventure which I propose to undertake, my mind is in anticipatory mode. I delight in projecting my thoughts into possible future events when I may be sailing my small boat from Essex towards the Scilly Isles early this year. I dream of sunny days and of the wind being in my favour, but like Joyen from experience I know this will be unlikely; most probably there will be headwinds, dull skies and rain, but that does not prevent me from delighting in all possible outcomes and making provision for them.

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