An account of a person’s life written by that person. He gives a vivid description of his childhood in his autobiography.
When asked to do a “Bio” I was a bit concerned. How much should I give away? There is always going to be a bit of self analysis and introspection involved which can be uncomfortable. Should it be about who I am as a person or what I have done. Or both? An account of ones life is a difficult thing to attempt I think. This is what I have come up with so far;
I grew up in a few different places but really when I think of growing up it was in Cowell which is a small country town in South Australia of about 1200 people when I was there, including the farmers, and in Alice Springs which is in the middle of Australia *kind* of near Uluru (Ayres Rock.) I used to play football and enjoyed camping and fishing trips. It was my father who inspired my outdoors side and not worrying about doing it a bit tough (I slept on a swag for a year at age 25 because I thought buying a bed was a waste of money) I eventually bought a bed when Dad came to visit and mentioned that I should probably just get a proper bed. This held me in good stead for leaky yachts, having to stay awake for 36 hours during a storm etc. My parents split up when I was 5 which is why I lived in different locations. I think Mum inspired my adventurous side, she has an adventurous and hippie spirit and incidentally is by so far the biggest fan of SLV (Sailing LaVagabonde). I have a little brother who I am trying to convince to come on the boat but he only wanted to go to Cuba. He’s a bit of a Communist. I was pretty naughty at school and in general fairly difficult to parent I think.
I went to boarding school in Adelaide which was amazing. A lot of my best friends I met here. It was like living with 15 of your best friends. The only thing I don’t like about the whole sailing thing is I can’t spend as much time with my mates and family. It truly is a shame to not be able to hang with these people every day as they are pretty much all just really funny. We laugh a lot. I think about them and miss them every day.
After boarding school I went to university (college) and failed. I failed so bad that in order to re-apply ever again they said that I would need to write a letter to someone, I can’t remember who. I was too busy playing backyard cricket a lot with my mates and partying. It turned out that because I managed to land the job offshore this was the best thing that could have happened, the failing Uni thing. Lucky and very stupid Riley.
I think I drank too much from the age of 22-26. It was almost becoming a sport or problem depending on which way you look at it. I certainly didn’t want to leave any stone unturned. I was petrified of looking back from age 50 and thinking that I had missed out on something/everything. I like older people for the same reason I like older music they/it seem/s more authentic. I would listen to older people, my parents friends, uncles etc (not my parents obviously, who listens to them?). If there was a general theme from these people it was always along the lines of have kids later and do as much as you can when your young. This was also why I travelled a lot.
I like people who are a little odd or interesting and good stimulating conversation, quoting obscure lines from movies, lyrics or favourite lines from books and spaghetti Bolognese. My friends think I’m a hypocrite but I feel as though I have a complicated moral code that has evolved according to my age. An odd thing I do that I feel really helps alleviate my own personal stress and frustration; if I’m waiting in line somewhere, usually customs, and people are just sitting around blatantly ignoring the customers, talking amongst themselves etc, most people would be familiar with the situation, the people behind the counter slowly attending to you in their own time and appearing to take some joy out of having made you wait, I will pull out my kindle and sit down somewhere peacefully and just wait to be served pretending not to notice their poor customer service. I’m sure this actually hastens the eventual service and sometimes I will ask them to wait until I have finished my chapter.
The picture above is me working on an offshore drill rig and on a barge offshore. I did this for 8 years to save up for La Vagabonde. For three weeks we would work for 12 hours a day and its fuckin hot because your working on a large metal object that is sitting in the sun. I have mixed feelings about my time offshore, I made some life long friends and it gave me money and time to travel but it can be really difficult. I hope that I don’t have to go back, I think we would look at chartering first (might need a bigger boat!) When the atmosphere is bad offshore on the Rigs there is no escaping and its oppressive, it is mentally and physically draining. I managed to move into construction instead of drilling later in my career which was infinitely better. Heavily unionised, better conditions, less pressure = better atmosphere = everyone happier = happy Riley. Yeehah! In my time off I liked to travel and between jobs I was able to go to a lot of different places while the Yacht idea was taking hold. I recently filled my passport and had to get a new one.
The two big events from then were buying the yacht and meeting Elayna. I won’t go into too much detail here suffice it to say that I love her more than anything, she is the best thing that has ever happened to me, she can sail to windward at like almost 30 degrees and can hold her own in 5m swell and gale force winds, one helluva boat. Elayna is also good.
On La Vagabonde I like to free dive, fish and spearfish. I think that as we get better equipment that the movies will be able to show a bit more on this. I can dive down to 30m, Elayna can do just over 20m and is a much stronger swimmer and more comfortable in the water than I am. She’s basically a fish. Learning to slow your heart rate and mastering your bodies physiology and natural instincts in order to free dive is really calming and its something I wish I could do every day instead of chasing up some odd piece of broken and crucial yacht equipment in a foreign country. Eating a freshly speared snapper is a good thing.
The photo below is from when I broke my neck travelling through Brazil and had to have spinal surgery over there. I spent 6 months recovering, whilst 16 of my best mates went on “The best trip ever” (I keep hearing) an RV trip up and down the coast of The States. At different times I was told not to move my neck or I would never walk again and later that my voice would never recover enough to live a normal life, like socialise and go back to work eventually. It all turned out OK though, over a hundred grand hospital fee that travel insurance picked up there. I could go on here, I wrote about half of a book on my experiences whilst I was recovering because I spent little to no time talking, as instructed by my pathologist, for 4 or 5 months. The first 18 days was strictly no talking and then I was allocated 15 words an hour or something for I can’t remember how long, months.
I also like to pass the time aboard by reading. David Foster Wallace is incredible obviously, but others I really like are Jonathan Franzen, Knutt Hamsen, Don DeLillio and John Fante. I will get heavily wrapped up in a particular subject, for example, I read a psychology textbook on the Atlantic Crossing and would read the most interesting parts to Jack and Elayna during our enforced ‘meetings.’ I am maybe not insecure but slightly preoccupied with a permutation of my life’s path. Not having been to University (read passed) and having had a mundane and unacademic career for the last 8 years I think about occasionally and I tend to compensate by using big words. Like Tautology. And Permutation. I’m obviously not too fussed about grammar. Another, I suppose, odd thing I do is that because I thought that sections of the Psychology text book were poorly written, boring or even attempting to morally persuade the reader, which I don’t think it was their job to do, I struck entire sections with black pen and even tore out some so that when I read it again on the next big crossing I won’t waste my time with the bad parts.
Music: At the moment I’m really flogging The Drones, Neil Young, Nick Cave, Colour Haze and Pink Floyd. Getting deep into the backlogs. Tangled thoughts of leaving, Elliot Smith and I’m always listening to Jack White. If we are having dinner we can even go for some jazz or instrumental. A bit of an odd grouping but I feel as though one must keep it eclectic if nothing else mustn’t one? Haha. We download Aussie music onto Spotify and try to agree on songs we like and then compile playlists. This is good fun.
The last thing I should mention is that I’m pretty excited about our sailing channel. Elayna spent 4 months back in Aus making websites, honing editing skills, making an album and writing a recipe book. I can’t believe she made a website! How do you even do that? We are a bit of a professional outfit these days and it feels good. At this rate it looks like we will be sailing around for YEARS!!! Thanks to everyone who has supported us along the way you are making the vids and trip a reality. We love you.