Our homecoming was a glorious whirlwind of settling in and socialising. At times seeing folk for the first time in three years was overwhelming; to see their eyes light up followed by firm, lingering hugs, then tears or whoops was truly humbling. Any doubts about the decision to draw a line under our liveaboard chapter were deluged by a dazzling upwelling of love. Yet when our thoughts turn to the ocean we do miss Noctiluca. Despite all the trials and challenges she threw at us, she was home for a time, kept us safe and granted us some of the most memorable years and profound experiences of our lives. I am grateful for all the lessons she taught us, the pain and the joy, the fear and elation. You changed us, dear boat, and we love you for that. When I think about her now it is with deep affection and a swelling feeling in my chest. I don’t pine for our liveaboard-life, but I feel grateful and privileged that we made those three years happen, living by the sway of the ocean.
The return to cold water surfing at home breaks has been joyous. Driving to the beach, to familiar views, the sharp nip of frost in the nostrils, glowing cheeks and a pounding heart from a stiff paddle out through whitewater followed by a settling of sit bones onto fibreglass and foam to await the next set. Those first afternoon surfs in the low December sun were golden. Hearing robin song and jackdaw chatter, catching sight of a blackbird diving into a hedge, or crouching on the shore at low tide greeting limpets like old friends among the citrus tang of seaweeds, I was home.