On the first yacht I worked on, we spent a month at the yacht Club in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. We were the biggest yacht there, and the owner’s wife was very proud of this fact, boasting about it at the club to the other yacht owners. However, when we sailed to Seychelles and moored at a marina on the island of Mahe’, we were one of the smallest yachts. When she saw this, she said in a very small voice, “but we look so small, you can hardly even see us”. She was devastated.
There will always be those who are better – and worse - off than you. Don’t be too arrogant or too depressed about either.
During my travels in North America, I travelled across the border into Canada. One of the cities I visited was Montreal, where I was struck by the beauty of the architecture. What made this city special, however, was that while it was obviously a bustling metropolis with the mandatory high rise buildings, glass, steel and concrete, these modern structures were often found next to beautiful old buildings, dating back to the city’s early days. And instead of jarring, old and new existed in perfect harmony, creating a unique skyline which captured both the proud past and exiciting future of this amazing city.
The life lesson here is that we don’t always have to get rid the old to make way for the new. There can be space for both – be it buildings, ideas or people – to live in harmony with, and complement, each other.
While travelling through America, I spent a few days in Los Angeles, the 2nd largest city in the United States and the world centre for the entertainment industry. Of course, no trip to L.A is complete without a trip to Hollywood, and while I was there I took a tour of Universal Studios. Included in this tour was a stop-off at the pool containing the beast (or rather, the head of the beast) that sparked terror into the hearts of millions in the 1970s, and had people too terrified to go into the sea – Jaws!
While it made use of what were considered ground-breaking special effects techniques at the time, 30-odd years later, getting up close and personal with the fibreglass model of Jaws was anything but scary! As one of those who was terrified by the film, I was horrified at its amateur appearance!
The life lesson here is even something very basic can create a huge impression if it’s used in the right way. So don’t be scared - take your talents and use them to create magic.
In 1994, I took a 10-month working holiday in the United States, and was fortunate to see many of the more famous attractions in cities across the country during this time. One of the attractions that most impressed me was Sea World in San Diego. Of course I realise that, almost 20 years on, these large “super-aquariums” are pretty common place – South Africa has uShaka Marine World in Durban and the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town, and there are others in Australia and Europe. At the time, however, I was bowled over by Sea World. It was like Disneyland, but with fish! It was simply the best aquarium I had ever seen.
The lesson here is that it pays to be bold. If you do something unheard of, daring and completely revolutionary today, you may well be setting a trend for the future.