The Sea

I’m extending the concept of Down to Earth to one specific aspect: Water.

“About 71% of the Earth’s surface is water-covered. Water also exists in the air as water vapour, in rivers and lakes, in icecaps and glaciers, in the ground as soil moisture and in aquifers, and even in you and your dog.”

“Water is never still. Thanks to the water cycle, our planet’s supply constantly moves from one place to another and from one form to another. Things would get stale without the water cycle!”

Growing up by the sea became an essence of my life. The smell, the sound, its beauty. It is always waiting for me, and I always anticipate its presence. Its Constance. Its foreverness.

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As a child, I ventured out with my father, a fisherman, trawling for prawns. We would go far out to sea where the waves were taller than the trawler. He would tie me to the mast so I would not be washed overboard. The smell of the open sea and the pleasurable consumption of freshly cooked prawns have never left me. Every opportunity to be on the open sea I take. Any excuse for fishing I will take, although I seldom catch anything, but the pleasure of being on the Water is all important. It brings me unparalleled tranquillity.

We also lived by the sea. I would spend many hours walking our 100-mile beach searching for pipis that we would sell to the local bait supplier, who also rented canoes, which we could use in exchange for the bait we collected. The hours and hours of wandering the beach with constant dipping into the surf to catch the waves and being dumped by unforeseen curled waves was total freedom at that age. The time to do as we pleased without any parental limits except to come home before dark. In those days, we wore no shoes, and the sand sweeping between our toes was also our pleasure and fun. Indeed, no worries about tomorrow.

In those days, I achieved my independence and sense of adventure, exploring the rocks and the caves on the rocky shoreline and following the crabs as they patterned across the sand or hid in the rock shelters. I was not yet a teenager.

Today I regularly still visit my hometown of those days and spend many hours wandering its beach still empty if you pick the right time of the day. And, of course, the taste of the saltwater as you throw yourself into the surf. Although the surf seems to have gotten much more robust, it is with some care that I avoid those waves that toss you under repeatedly without giving you time to breathe. Instead, they say you float through it and let yourself be carried to shore. However, I’m unsure of my capacity to continue breathing as the waves crush me further deep. Nevertheless, I find the Water’s taste and thrust still exhilarating, seductive, and essential. But, I am more prudent with age.

When I think about it today, I realize how enlightening all my choices have been with Water. Water: near the Water, on the Water, in Water, all essential elements in my well-being.

Participating in the maiden voyage of a new superyacht owned by my nephew from Copenhagen to Lisbon was the ultimate pleasure, the constant rush of the sea. All aspects of the trip were seductive.

The North Sea

North Atlantic Ocean

My most recent voyage in January 2024 was from Lanzarote to Antiqua, which took 15 days at sea. This silence and beauty demonstrated incredible peace. I had often promised myself this trip.

Still beautiful. A constant sense of peace

Constant

MY REFLECTIONS as I look back on my 80 years.

  • Sitting on the beach as a young teenager to watch the light change from sunset to dawn.
  • Sleeping on the Nambucca Heads beach with a mate during my first road trip that resulted in us being the guests in the local jail, with the constable’s wife bringing us breakfast of bacon and eggs in the morning.
  • Swimming naked in a closed public pool, having stolen over the fence one summer evening with my girlfriend us, hiding flattened against the sides, the security guards unexpectedly searched with spotlights.
  • On the coast of Santiago, I realized how peaceful I could be in contemplating the ocean after a long fight with my girlfriend.
  • Sail fishing in the Caribbean, where the sailfish took me for several hours.
  • On the seas of Indonesia, I searched for hidden treasure and pirates.
  • In Indonesia, I ventured to find an underwater volcano with a gasoline-powered motorboat. Unfortunately, the pilot calmly smoked, forcing me to dive overboard for fear of us all blowing up.
  • In Bali, I made love in the sea with the model I was enamoured of then.
  • In Haiti, I slept on the beach where a local fisherman dove for lobster and cooked on the open fire.
  • I lived on a houseboat on the Thames in London in my early days in Europe.
  • Catching a ferry from Le Havre to Portsmouth and lying on the deck as the cabin was putrid and being joined by a young lady in mutual attraction, she was quickly distracted once she landed to meet her husband.
  • I travelled up the Bosporus on a ferry I hired in mid-winter, with no other possibilities. I visited and ate with the ferryman’s extended family all the length of the river.
  • Spending a week in Madras (Chennai today) as a member of the theosophical society.
  • Exploring the Andaman Islands, seeking to photograph the local tribes living without contact with the Western world. My permission was withdrawn, but only after I had reached Port Blair. Instead, I spent a week on one of the deserted islands in the area. Unintentionally stranded, I lived on fish and some rice I had bought with me. Then also, there was the comfort that a box of the best Havana cigars offered that I happened to have with me—living naked for ten days without the knowledge of when I would leave.
  • Fishing in Dominica with a close friend in a small dinge in choppy waters with me being violently seasick. (Something that never happened to me).
  • In Mahabalipuram, each morning around 4.30 am, I went fishing way out to sea with a local fisherman family. Heading out to sea in a canoe of tied logs with plastic bags as our sails. Whenever I would bring in my line without a fish, causing consternation and concern, they were constantly on the alert for me falling overboard. Still, they continued encouraging me to join them every morning. Sometimes, the older children would join us. We watched the sunrise each morning.
  • In Iceland, shooting a commercial where I wanted to follow a boat out to sea with the protagonist waving up to the plane. With little equipment, I had to sit on the cameraman’s legs as he filmed the scene below whilst hanging over the plane’s open door.
  • Denmark, we spent the summer holidays in September with my oldest friends from Paris. The unexpected perfect weather allowed us to swim every day despite the minimum temperatures.
  • Greece island, Tinos, where my friend Brett has developed another life away from Melbourne and Paris, his other homes. We spent wonderful moments exploring the waters of the island and his numerous land purchases overlooking the sea.
  • A summer adventure in Lamu where I meet the character who inspired my film script, “Spindrift”, and a trip on a local Dhow for him to gain the confidence in me to tell me his story. Our being caught in a storm at sea and our survival and friendship developed complete confidence.
  • In Scotland, on the island of Skye, walking on the beaches of Skye with the sheep in full daylight at 10 p.m. at night is eerie and beautiful.
  • A rented lighthouse in Ireland with fishing trips as a daily event to a local spot recommended by the vendor. Only to be told after losing hooks, lines and sinkers repeatedly that it is ” true the fishing was never excellent there, but isn’t the spot beautiful.”
  • Exploring Porquerolles in the early 70s, swimming from our motor boat to the beach to play Pètanque with the locals and friends.
  • Fell in love with Haiti, its people and the country even though my first trips were under the dictator Baby Doc and his horrendous rule. I spent time with a witch doctor who opened my eyes to the potential of suggestion.
  • It was in Venice that I romanced my wife, Elaine.
  • I took Elaine fishing in Sydney when she was nine months pregnant and three weeks overdue. We had a troubled captain.
  • On the beach in Portofino, my son, Olivier, took his first steps.
  • Cuba family trip to explore the island and its beaches and for me to explore my favourite cigar makers.
  • With its 365 rivers and peaceful black sand beaches, Dominica strongly considered buying a house for our summer escapes.
  • Over the years, I have waded in the seas of the east, south and north coast of Australia, the French coast from Deauville, Biarritz, Collioure, Cannes, Grimaud, Narbonne, Porquerolles, all the Saint Tropez plages.
  • And even the cold waters of the English coastline at Bournemouth, Brighton and Hastings, Portugal from Lisbon, Porto to Fago in the south, Hawaii, the Caribbean and its many islands, in the US, San Francisco, Seattle, Dan Diego, Los Angeles, long island, Miami, Key West, Newport and Chicago lakes, in Spain San Sebastián, Balboa, Coruna, Cadaques, Barcelona, Chile from Playa Reñaca and Las Salinas near Santiago, Tierra del Fuego. Palma de Mallorca, Italy, from Portofino to Positano and, more recently, Naples.
  • Then there were the canals of Venice, Hamburg, and Amsterdam, as well as the rivers and lakes of Australia, Great Britain, Switzerland, Italy, France, Japan, and Chile.
  • I visit every fish market in the world, from the old Tokyo market to Venice, Paris, Terra del Fiago, and Moscow.

But curiously, I chose not to live near the water, as I was not attracted to tourism. My pool is my sustenance.

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