Solo in Falmouth

Arriving in Falmouth gave us all a sense of deja vu. This was out first landfall on our KUS journey on the way out and it was to be our last on the way home. The familiar harbour was a welcome sight particularly after the last rough weeks on the North Atlantic. For me it also meant being back in England, suddenly tantalisingly close to home. No media day was given, so I had no opportunity to get in touch with the family but considering where we were in the journey that was a good thing: really concentrating on who we were with and savouring the last few weeks away from home.

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KUS tradition says that there will be a “Solo” (alone time) in Falmouth on the way back. This is a period where the KUSis can spend time revisiting the journey and thinking about what they want to do in the future.  Some might worry about being lonely or bored as the rules stipulate that you have no contact or communication with anyone and you do not have access to any distractions. But actually it is a treasured time away from all the other crew members(as much as we all love each other), away from anyone, time alone that has been hard to come by in the past 7 months. It’s a great time for personal reflection. Usually a solo is for 24 hours but we were running behind schedule due to the storm we’d had to weather so our solos were cut down to just half that (or less, depending on choice).

We organised it so that we could go on land and pick a spot to settle down: somewhere where you could just look out at the sea or up at the sky or just close your eyes and look into yourself. On this peaceful stretch of the south coast of England (and because we were lucky with the weather) it was absolutely beautiful and we couldn’t have wished for a better day.

I took with me: my backpack, a sleeping bag, jumpers, my offshore weather gear, spare socks, water and a bit of food. I didn’t need anything else for the next 12 hours.

I walked for half an hour along the coast line and found myself a spot overlooking the entrance to Falmouth Harbour. I was able to watch the marine traffic move slowly in and out, sail boats crisscrossing in the breeze and the ferry coming every one and a half hours. It was a great spot.

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It was a strange feeling, mainly because it brought back so many memories of past holidays in Cornwall, of time with friends and family life. I found it wonderful to replay these memories with the happy thoughts of this trip added onto the end. It was like watching a movie of my life in little video snippets and photos.

I also thought about my future and what I want to do. It gave me an opportunity to mull a lot of things over in my mind, like what I want to study, what work I want to do when I’m older and what I want most from life. I have now set a few things straight in my head in regard to those ambitions and I know that I want to travel, live by the sea and do things with ships.

I would recommend anyone to take a “solo”. It’s an investment in yourself. Despite knowing that we had difficult Easterly winds ahead and would have to motor hard to make it back to Kiel in time for the scheduled arrival, despite dreading the end of the journey and being homesick at the same time, we were able to switch off, forget our worries, just sit and stare.

It was a very memorable and positive day that gave me a lot. I was able to completely relax and delve into my own thoughts, something I’d like to build into my life regularly going forward. And I wasn’t lonely or bored at all, just “solo”, and that’s a good thing sometimes.

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