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Shipwrecked dreams and forgotten beauty

Calm passage: an abandoned sailboat in Ely’s Harbour (Photograph by Nina London)

Last Sunday we were out on the ocean. It was already autumnally cool and windy. The sun was playing hide and seek with us, peeping out of the white clouds and scattering sheets of silver sparks on the radiantly blue water. There was a flash of warmth and then the sun hid again and the sea turned grey.

In the distance, a flotilla of small white sails raced before the wind at the Nationals Regatta.

I imagined the salt spray on young faces, and their fierce determination as they leant far out over the foaming water to keep their brave Optis on an even keel. It was a day when the winds and waves challenged you, when a moment of lost concentration ended in a quick capsize and the shock of chilly waters.

We followed in pursuit, crashing through the peaks and troughs in the Great Sound to the calm passage under Somerset Bridge at Ely’s Harbour.

I heard the “clunk” of cars as they passed above us.

Out from that brief shadow, we cruised slowly through the channel at Cathedral Rocks, then wandered east along the line of small islands to the passage at Willowbank.

I suddenly noticed a white sailboat. It was knocked over on its side and shoved up on the shore under the palm trees.

The abandonment and loneliness of its lovely silhouette made me gasp.

“Why is it here?” I wondered out loud. “It’s a shipwreck,” my husband, Bill replied simply. “No, it is not!” I exclaimed. In my mind, shipwrecks are like the Constellation or Montana, leviathans crushed beneath the waves and scattered among the wild beauty of the reefs. Wrecks are clothed in coral and embraced by purple sea fans.

Yet, here I saw the clean lines of a graceful hull and the glint of stainless steel.

No mast or lines remained, no ragged sails, just the spotless keel, dappled with shade and somehow pure; a forgotten beauty.

I thought how often we see a beautiful façade that hides a soul in deep pain and loneliness.

We fail to feel the emptiness and heartbreak of someone we watch from afar.

We are not touched by their unhappiness. Their lives appear to be beautiful, and we do not recognise that we are looking at an empty hull.

We see their smiles but do not feel their abandonment.

Their lives seem perfect, yet inside they are empty. Their world seems exciting, but they are alone, washed up by storms we cannot imagine on to an empty stretch of sand.

“Let’s rebuild this boat!” I almost shouted.

Bill smiled: “It’s a lot of work. My friend, Ernst found a wreck like this on a deserted beach in West Africa.

With his own hands he transformed it. It took him months and he often felt like giving up. When it was finished, he climbed aboard and sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to Antigua. He called me from there and said he had found paradise.”

How often the hard work we do on our souls can launch us on a journey from despair to happiness!

The sun broke through the clouds, and for a moment my shipwreck was alive with glorious light.

Nina London is a certified wellness and weight-management coach. Her mission is to support and inspire mature women to make positive changes in their body and mind. Share your inspirational stories with her at www.ninalondon.com