The Examined Life

Chapter 2-  May 17, 2005

Sam Writing


Feeding the Queen's Swans

Chapter 2.    The Examined Life

If the unexamined life is not worth living, the examined life is scary…

I’m sitting on Singapore Airlines.  We’re enroute from Taipei bound for London via Singapore.   This time around I’m with Debryn and Kai.  I’ve just finished doing our accounts and once again am staggered by how fast the money flows.  Someone once told me “sailing is the most pleasant way to bankruptcy”.  He was in the process of buying and fitting out a cruising boat for himself and his wife.  It wasn’t complaining, just stating a fact – a fact which doesn’t seem to dissuade many who have been bitten by the cruising bug…

When we arrive we’ll pick up a rental car and drive to Hamble in South England. (Near Southampton for those who have checked their atlases without success…)  Tonight we’ll stay at the Royal Southern Yacht Club.  I stayed there last time when we were going through Survey and Sea Trials on Sarah Jane (not Debryn Ruth as we hadn’t purchased her yet…).  The club is right on the Hamble river and overlooks a number of pontoons which stretch lengthwise down the river instead of extending crosswise across the river.  A different arrangement than I’m used to seeing, but it makes sense as having the current running abeam your boat when docking would make things tricky…  I digress. 

The RSYC is very well appointed and has impeccably trained staff who provide service at a level which is genuine without being obsequious.  Each morning on my previous stay I would take a bath (as unmanly as this may sound I defend myself by pointing out that there was no shower in the bathroom…)  and dress by 7:30 so I could sit in a completely empty dining room, look out over a foggy Hamble River and be greeted by my personal waiter.  The fact that he was my personal waiter was by default and not by design.  I happened to be there Tuesday through Friday when the well heeled Londoners who flock to the club on weekends were busy at their jobs - running the same rat race I used to…  I’ve seen, and at one point was, the type long enough to know the drill.  Work hard, play hard.  Translated into practical terms this means work long, play short… I digress.

My waiter at the RSYC would greet me each morning with a “Good morning, saah.  Same as usual?”  This is what I consider impeccable service.  For on one level it efficiently solicits what I would like to eat with a minimum amount of effort required from either of us.  At 7:30 in the morning a minimum amount of effort is important.  On another level it shows me that he remembers who I am and what my breakfast preferences are.  Finally, on a third level it leaves me feeling like an old timer.  Someone who belongs and has been sitting at that same table for years, eating the same food – a bit like the folks at Cheers saying “Norm” whenever he would walk in… I digress.


Same as usual.

They’ve just announced the descent into London Heathrow.  This and the fact that my notebook computer battery is about to die mean its time for a conclusion to this rambling....  I think its fair to sum things up by stating that as we head off on this adventure I’m both expectant and apprehensive.  I’m hopeful that our travels will be pleasant and meaningful.  I’m apprehensive that there are many situations which lie ahead of us which cannot be planned for and therefore may mar the pleasantness of these travels.  However, most of all I’m expectant. 

I fully expect that tomorrow morning I will be dining on three slices of fried ham, two eggs sunnyside up, but firm, with two slices of wheat toast and a jar of rough-cut orange marmalade.  My coffee will come with cream and sugar and I will have a glass of orange juice on the side.  “Same as usual.  Thank you, Tony.”





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Map of Hamble to Lymington

Map of English Channel  Star is at Honfleur.  Fecamp is just north.  Map is interactive so you can move in, out and around.  

Map of Brittany   Centered on Saint Malo, France.  Map is interactive.


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