Aspiring to Transparentsea

Aspiring to Transparentsea

Lauren L. Hill reunites with friends to voyage along the East Coast of Australia, relishing in the joy of slowness.

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Words by Lauren L. Hill. Photos courtesy of Chrystal Dawn and Lauren Hill. 

While mothering a toddler and moving at his pace through the world, I keep wondering, “why are we all so busy?” My son and I stop to admire drips of water down a metal drain, echoing watery reverberations back into our faces. We squat to listen and peer into the black abyss, level with knees hinging past us. I’ve walked over this drain probably 100 times, but had never really looked at it or thought about its purpose.

Sometimes I don’t feel like there’s time to fully immerse myself in whichever majestic new abyss he’s absorbed in. I like to move at adult speed, too; it can be exhilarating. And productive. And absolutely necessary, at times. But also, exhausting.

Lauren wears the Olivia Robe in Lay and the Kirra One Piece in Mesa.

Lately I’ve been feeling lonely in my cravings for slower-ness; for un-busyness with friends. For time to nestle into lengthy conversation and to feel completely unrushed by schedules or alarms or expectations to be elsewhere.

Where are we going so quickly through the hours of our days? And are our sails really set in the direction we deeply desire as we move so swiftly?

For these reasons, plus the 10-year anniversary of the Transparentsea Voyage, we packed up for three weeks of basically undirected time as three families, plus whoever else wanted to join, down the East Coast of Australia.

Lauren wears the Sydney 2mm Yulex Long Jane in Cocoa.

The Mini Poncho in Navy Kelp.

Lauren wears the Sydney 2mm Yulex Long Jane in Cocoa.

In August of 2009, I had recently graduated from university and was on a surf bender after four years of living far too far from the Atlantic (30 minutes away, never again). Dave and I had met briefly during my study abroad in Australia in 2006, and shared a lock-eyed glimpse from across a living room that made time stand still. Three years later, out of the blue, he wrote to me and we ignited a penpalship of gushing love haiku and many hour-long Skype sessions.

He was planning to be off-grid for the following month, all of October, leading a surfing/sailing voyage from Byron Bay to Bondi Beach, Transparentsea. They’d sail roughly 430 miles, to parallel and celebrate the local migrating humpback population, which had recovered from the brink of endangerment, and to work with coastal environmental NGOs along the way. Transparentsea was also an excuse to live outside for a month, and connect with friends amongst the elements. We replicated the mission along the Californian coast in 2011, encountering Blue Whales on our sail from Gaviota to San Diego, working with NGOs and community groups there, and made a documentary about it.

The Transparentsea Voyage - Trailer from 108 Media on Vimeo.
I was still in Florida during the initial Transparentsea, so to parallel the trip I made a tamer and much less admirable commitment: to ride a new board with a different person and edit a short clip of the day every day for the entirety of October (no need to Google, very embarrassing). I managed to convince my local surf shop to fund the idea, and thus crafted probably the densest period of water time of my whole life. The vast majority of each day was spent in, around, and thinking about the ocean. After four years of intellectual busy-ness, it was heaven. 

Chrystal wears the Kiki One Piece in Kora. Her son wears the Swamini Kids Sunsuit in Kelp

Fast-forward 10 years, plus one human, a Halloween wedding in Vegas, and many additional sunspots, and we found ourselves still longing for days that melded into weeks of sparkly seas, beach naps and the soft surf stoned-ness of a mind floated by countless peeling point waves. We were longing for a reunion of those earlier adventures.

Since most of us had had children during that ten-year gap, we knew we’d have to reimagine the original Transparentsea, when the rules were “no roofs, no razors, no roads,” and everybody just camped under their sailing kayaks at night. 

We opted for an easier version of the trip, sleeping in vans, camper trailers and tents, and swapped out child-minding on the beach so everybody could get some water time each day: sailing, surfing, snorkelling, seaweed collecting. We relished in the simple (and exhausting) joys of carrying water long distances, sharing meals around a central fire, and expanding friendships with experiential knowledge earned together. We chased over grassy headlands to find the full moon rising, marvelled at the psychedelic underwater worlds of rock pools and had salt water in our heads at the end of most days.

We gathered with concerned citizens and surfers working to protect their local river from proposed mining and damming, and helped to craft a short film, "Caring for the Clarence" and podcast episode featuring Hayley Talbot (she's the first person to solo kayak the Clarence River from source to sea, a 400 kilometre voyage) to highlight their efforts. 

Caring for the Clarence from Nathan Oldfield on Vimeo. 

Lauren wears the Sydney 2mm Yulex Long Jane in Cocoa.

The Swamini Kids Sunsuit in Sahi.

Mostly, we fell into a new pace. A human pace, largely detached from technology and the inhuman expectations of trying to keep up with relentless machines. There was pretty much always time to surf a new wave, to take a different path around the headland. Is three weeks away from home a product of privilege? No doubt. But it is also a matter of choice and using resources differently.

For those sweet weeks, we could really stick to the motto we always aspire to, the mantra of our eccentric inventor and surf elder neighbour George Greenough. When asked what he’s doing tomorrow, or next week, or next year, you can bet he’s going to answer, “We’ll just have to wake up and see.”

And by that, he implores us to be with the conditions as they roll in, to craft lives flexible enough to respond to what is actually happening in our local ecology. To wake up alert to each new day, with fresh eyes ready to relish in the delights of possibility.

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1 comment

roberta riccio

Thanks for this breathe of fresh/ salty air!

Thanks for this breathe of fresh/ salty air!

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