A little perspective

I have been thinking about perspective a lot recently.

For the past few weeks we’ve been surrounded by some pretty spectacular landscape. Islands that rise sharply out of the ocean, their sheer cliffs towering above us, their jagged, rocky spires unwelcoming. They are stoic and dramatic, inspiring and intimidating. And, according to Google, probably formed some 550 million years ago. Which puts our short lives on this planet in sharp perspective, for sure.

These huge islands can act as both a blockade to the wind – providing a lovely, protected anchorages and windless patches far from shore. Or, bend and funnel the wind, accelerating the gusts into bullets that turn the harbour into a mess of whitecaps and chop. We’ve also had some pretty gusty conditions over the past few weeks. Needless to say sailing has been tricky and anchorages have been both comfortable and sleepless.

From deck level, the islands definitely feel imposing but Kate still feels large enough to contain and protect us. However, as we were returning home in the dinghy from a snorkelling adventure last week I realized that Kate was just a tiny smudge of green with a line of white and a slash of yellow against the mountainous rock behind her. In an instant our cosy little existence suddenly felt so very small and fragile.

A few days later we found a deserted sand spit (a deserted anything in this heavily touristed part of the Philippines a rarity unto itself) and stopped to explore. While Steve sat and pondered the horizon I concentrated on what was underfoot.  I poked about in the sand, collecting a plethora of broken sand dollars, when I chanced upon one that was completely intact, yet tiny enough to fit on the tip of finger.

Here was I, now the monolith, contemplating this teeny tiny thing so fragile it threatened to crumble in my hand. And when I turned, there was Steve, a speck on the beach against the huge silhouette in the distance. A complete change of perspective with just a turn of my head.

This week these gusty conditions have stalled our progress northward.

We are currently on the western side of the island of Palawan experiencing NE/E winds. Our plan was to depart last weekend, sail the 20 or so miles to windward to round the top of the island and start down the eastern side. After looking at the long range forecast, gusting 25-30kts for most of the week, we decided to stay put. Our windward slog- and slog it would be in those winds – will only take us a day but we will be in the lee of the island. Once we round the corner we are totally exposed to the winds and the swell, which after a few days of heavy winds will likely be considerable. All week long I have oscillated between feeling antsy to get going again (at times double guessing our decision to stay put) and happy that we trusted our intuition to ride out the wind on anchor.  

I keep going back the two photos I took that day on the sand spit; Steve on the beach against the horizon, and that teeny tiny sand dollar on my finger tip. The bigness and the smallness of a thing being relative only to what is beside it, and how that alters the perspective on things. So, what’s another day waiting out the wind in the grand scheme of things?

When just outside my galley hatch is half a billion years worth of history to contemplate, it feels like no time at all.



One Comment Add yours

  1. Emily says:

    Love this reflection on shifting perspectives and our place in the world at any moment. Also- that galley view is 👌👌

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