A naughty mast

IMG_8717.JPG

My alarm went off at 0140 and I sleepily turned it off. Instead of spending those extra two minutes in warmth as I had done the last few nights, I jumped out having faith that the beautiful sunset meant there would be some stars in the sky. Since leaving the Azores, we had nothing but clouds and an icy cold North wind. I don’t mind bad weather, but taking away my stars is like putting me in prison.

 

It was still a cold icy North wind. I had put my own foul weather jacket underneath the large one that was issued to me by the boat. Before I went up to the cockpit, I was given a fender cover to use as a blanket for my legs because it really was that cold. It reminded me of the best sleep that I had in the cockpit when we were on charter in Trade Wins. We had taken the dinghy cover off for some reason and we wrapped ourselves in that so we weren’t touched by the wind. Us sailors are creative! Anyway, I trooped up the stairs, happy to see that the Universe gave us her stars that evening.

 

After handover, I went to sit on the comfy sofas to do my stargazing, but they were soaking wet and the wind wasn’t really protecting me. I managed to find a corner that was ok. Then the bilge alarms kept going off, so I eventually sat by the helm where my watch partner was in order to turn them off quicker and give everyone the rest they so badly deserved. The wind was bitter cold, so I slouched down and put the humongous fender cover on the side of me and over half my head to protect me. I was feeling all nice and cosy and ready to watch for falling stars.  I looked up and saw a piece of the masterpiece that is the sky and was so happy. That was…until I noticed the spreader was swinging dangerously. I quickly popped up and got my headlamp out. I looked up and holy shit it was broken!! I showed my partner who’s response was to give me the radio to call the Captain.

 IMG_8746

The engineer came up first. He had turned the lights on before he came up and before he was all the way up, he swore and ran down for a torch. He came back up followed by the Captain. We turned on more lights, which are as bright as a football field lit up at night and we could see the spreaders were ok. The rotating mast was just rotating MUCH more than it should. We prepared to drop the sail, put her into the wind and I pulled down on her with all my might, swinging in the air to put as much weight on it as I could. I just wanted it down because these masts weigh tons and could do some serious damage to the boat and cause death or life changing injury if they crash down on anyone.  We spent a tense 45 minutes securing the boom to take the swing out, which could cause further damage. It is hard to de-mast a boat with healthy rigging, but it’s possible.

 

During those 45 minutes, the GPS alarm kept going off saying there was no signal. Yep, we lost the GPS. Luckily there was a back up one and with those good old smart phones, they give GPS coordinates so we could plot them on a chart in the worst case scenario. There is a metal tube that holds the wires of the electronics as well as preventing the mast from rotating too much and that welding had snapped off breaking the cables and allowing the mast to swing freely.

 

Of course this happened at 2.23 am, as all bad things happen on a boat between 2 and 3 am, so we didn’t know this until the morning. My watch partner and I spent a stressful two hours steering and praying that the boom didn’t fall on our heads. The boom is directly above the wheel. I talked out an escape strategy if it all went bad.

 IMG_8745

I woke up after my shift and was happy to see that the mast was still there as well as the stay sail, so it couldn’t have been all bad. Then I went outside and saw the beautiful sunshine shining down on a gorgeous deep blue sea. There was a big gentle swell with white caps accentuated by the sea blue. I thanked the Universe for keeping us safe the night before and for giving me this beautiful scenery to celebrate living another day. I was so energised and invigorated that during my watch I steered for three hours. The waves were so beautiful and I was loving perfecting my technique of sailing over the waves while keeping within five degrees of the course.

 

There are many reasons why I love sailing. It’s nights like the one we had last night that remind me to appreciate every single second of my life because we never know when it’s going to end. It makes the colours of the world so much brighter because without being morbid, I appreciate how close we are to death and that I have the choice to live life to the fullest. I reflected on my life today and realised that I am living life to the fullest and what an amazing adventure I’ve had so far!

The Azores

IMG_8671 - Copy

The Azores is one of the places I have heard sailors talk about since I started sailing. People talk of it’s magic, it’s beauty and of the friendly people. I was so excited when I discovered this delivery would take me to a place where I could finally experience it for myself.

 

Sometimes people can big up a place a bit too much and I’m not sure if that happened with me, or if the weather and lack of time meant that I couldn’t appreciate her in her full beauty.

 

When I went on deck and saw land the Friday we arrived, it was magical. There was the huge volcanic peak of Pico sticking out in front of us. The sun was shining above us and some dark clouds over the island we were going to, Faial, gave us a clue that we were going to receive a free washdown upon or shortly after, our arrival. As we got closer and closer, it was a combination of volcanic landscape and the English countryside. The houses and their buildings in their beautiful white façades and red roof tiles were very dramatic against the dark and lush background.

 IMG_8671 - Copy

As we pulled into the dock, I saw all of the paintings from boats that have been there. It was not only on the concrete dock in front of us, but along some rocks and the whole dock to the right as well. Probably about half a mile in total of boat and crew names. As I jumped off the boat onto steady land, I could feel the pride and sense of accomplishment as I walked over the stamps people from years back had made. Some had done around the world crossings, some were only two crew, others it looked like were ending their sailing journey there. It definitely felt like a powerful and special place to be. I was proud to be there.

 IMG_8687

We walked through the narrow streets made of cobblestone. The pavement/sidewalks are filled with individual mosaic tiles, each street having a different pattern of mosaics. There was clearly a lot of time and pride that went into building this beautiful town.  The buildings and houses are well maintained and definitely have a Portuguese influence to them. Sometimes I wasn’t sure if I was in Portugal or in England!

 IMG_8711 - Copy

The people were very interesting. Mind you, I didn’t chat with too many locals. The ones we did talk to didn’t speak a lot of English and it was great fun trying to have a conversation with hand gestures and pointing to things. It has been a while since I did that, and I forgot what a fun creative challenge it is! I just had this feeling that the people were a bit suspicious and cautious. When I mentioned my observations to the Deckhand, she agreed with me. Very nice and very friendly, but I definitely felt something a bit secretive about them. It would be interesting to know what that’s about. Maybe they have a lot of difficult experiences with drunken sailors or are shy because we don’t speak the other person’s language. Or maybe my observation is just full of shit. Who knows! I’m just sharing my experience of the town.   

 IMG_8674 - Copy

As we sat at anchor in the bay because there was too much swell to stay on the dock (two lines had broken and a piece of the metal cleat snapped off and fell next to a guy in the cockpit of the boat next to us), I saw boat after boat entering the bay. Depending on the weather, we knew that they would’ve had a rough journey and were probably relieved to be on land. It’s also incredible to know that every boat that comes in has done a 1000+ nautical mile journey. I felt a certain pride at being a sailor and being one of those few on earth who have done this magical journey.

 IMG_8678 - Copy

On Saturday we wanted to rent a car and explore the island and visit the volcano, but a fog decided to make an appearance making this activity a bit pointless. The fog stayed the whole day along with rain and clouds, making it a good clean up and then watch movies day. Sunday morning was the same, except with gale force winds making outside jobs nearly impossible.  We were getting blown around quite a bit. A few hours before we left, the sun made an appearance and some of the clouds moved to reveal that a giant volcano had been to the side of us the whole time, it was just blocked by the clouds. It wasn’t even that far! Maybe two land miles away, if that. We managed to take a few photos before the clouds came back, the winds picked up, the rain came and we pulled up anchor and pulled up our sails once again.

 IMG_8708

I will make this journey many more times in my life so when I get a chance to really explore the island, it will be interesting to see if my observations change. For now, the Azores is definitely somewhere I would recommend going to and want to visit again for a longer period of time. There is an intriguing magic about it that I would love to explore in more depth.

Sailor’s drunken debauchery

IMG_8688

Do you ever wonder why we use the term drunk as a sailor? Or why so many sailors tend to get legless when they arrive on shore? Maybe not, but the psychologist in me has.  When I woke up at 8 am on Friday morning, I could see the islands of Pico and Faial (The Azores) in the distance with their majestically volcanic beauty. It was a partly cloudy day, but the sun was shining.  I was looking forward to having an explore, a few drinks with my crew members to celebrate an amazing 12 day journey and then SLEEP! I wanted an early night so that I could wake up to the sun rising and do a full yoga session, instead of the seated and lying down routines I was doing during the sail.

 

When we knew that we were going to be on land in the next 24 hours, the deckhand expressed her interest in drinking herself “into a coma.” The other crew members agreed they were also looking forward to a drink. I was cool. One or two was all I needed since I had such a great time in a peaceful place and really liked the state of mind I was in. The Captain and Engineer were talking about getting shitfaced and the chef and other delivery crew were looking forward to a party. I sat there thinking how I would probably be the only one rested, with a clear and pain free head on Saturday.

 

Let me just tell you something you probably already know, states of mind change.  I too was hurting on Saturday.  We got to land and when I was ready to turn my phone on, I was bombarded with messages. I had actually debated on staying off social media since I told everyone I would be offline for about three weeks.  I was just going to send my family an email saying I was the happiest I’ve ever been. Then I took my selfish hat off and realised that there were other people who would really like to hear from me too and I didn’t have their email so I should go on social media. For me, it’s an adjustment and slight shock coming back to society after being outside of it, I mean totally outside of it for a couple of weeks. I just replied to what I could handle and then went off.

 IMG_8689

I can only imagine how the sailors of the early days felt when they hit land. My conditions are brilliant. I have a huge comfy bed, a nice big shower with endless water (we have a watermaker), fresh gourmet food that’s cooked for me, clean dry clothes and a dry boat. Back in the 1700 and 1800’s, they had leaky boats where they were constantly bailing water out of the bilges (worst job on a ship), no showers, limited water and dried food that lacked variety. Many people became sick and I don’t even want to imagine the smell inside those boats. They carried live animals, were damp, musty and the scent of body odour must’ve been overwhelming.  I can imagine why the first thing sailors of those days wanted to do when they got off a boat after months or sometimes years of being on sea, is to get drunk and have sex. Makes sense.

 

For me, it was almost a mourning of leaving a beautiful place. Even if people were crabby or there were tense situations, I stayed in my own bubble of happiness and deflected the negativity. Being on land, I receive so much more energy that I have to deflect and most often times, fail at. It leaves me low on energy and sometimes struggling to keep afloat.   

 

Anyway, I went off with the deckhand exploring the beautiful, quiet and quaint town of Horta. It’s not very big so it didn’t take very long. She has a degree in fashion so we went into some shops and she was teaching me some things about how clothes are made.  Then she said, “I want a drink.” I did too. We had two mini beers and thought it was weird we weren’t feeling the effects of alcohol after two weeks of not drinking. We had another mini one and a shot of the local liquor and thought, “Oh ok. Now we are.” The rest of the crew had gone off to do their own things, so we had all agreed to meet in Peter’s, the famous sailor’s bar that most people go to when they arrive. We merrily made our way there in the rain, debating on whether or not to stop off at some more local pubs. We decided they may be wondering where we went off to, so we splashed through the rain to meet them.

 IMG_8690

Everyone was already there so we joined them at the table where they quickly discovered what our Horta tour consisted of.  The captain ordered some big beers and a round of tequila shots to celebrate our safe arrival on land. Let’s just say it went uphill from there. Even though we spend all this time together on a boat, we don’t really get much time to chat. We are all on different schedules because of the watch pattern.  The odd times we did eat together, it was a quick meal and then one or more usually went off to bed.  At the pub we were busy chatting with lips made loose from alcohol about life stories we may not have shared otherwise. There was lots of laughter going around, lots of funny little dares to do. I would pop outside now and again and start chatting with whoever was outside smoking. It was great fun!

 

The deckhand and I went out with another sailor to a club somewhere. That’s all a bit hazy. I remember being in a car thinking I should probably be going to bed instead of out dancing. We got to the club and I remember thinking it was cool and how I really was quite legless. The deckhand told me we both spilled more beer than we drank, a good thing for us! Then we decided that the rest of the crew needed to join us, so we went back to the boat to round them up. The dock is a lot lower than us, like about two meters, so how we managed to stand on the wobbly steps and jump up to the boat without falling in, is a mystery to us!

 IMG_8691

We struggled to unlock the door for about 20 minutes and as I was about to pee my pants, the Captain came up behind us to say that we were opening the wrong door. We laughed hysterically as it took him three seconds to open the right door. Next thing I remember, I woke up the next morning wearing only my pyjama shirt and underwear, my clothes strewn everywhere on the floor and the shower door open. I guess I thought I needed a shower to wash off the alcohol!

 

The next morning we all slowly woke up and have yet to fit all the pieces of the evening together, but we had great fun sharing the parts we remembered. I had fun hearing what I missed after I went to bed!  We suffered together as we worked on the boat so that we could sit down and rest again. There was talk of going out again. Only the two people who managed a nap that afternoon went out again. The rest of us stayed in pretending that we were going to go out while we curled up on the sofa watching movies.

 IMG_8687

I guess that doesn’t really answer why us sailors engage in drunken debauchery, but it’s a little glimpse into it! Perhaps it’s our way of acclimatizing back into society, relief that we didn’t die at sea or maybe to fill a guilty conscience of being away and out of contact from family and loved ones for so long. Or maybe those of us that engage in it are secret alcoholics who have to make up for all the days they lost at sea! Who knows, all I know is that it can help bond crew (sometimes probably break them too!) and as long as no one gets hurt, makes for a fun way to celebrate making it to land safe and sound. Let’s hope the arrival in Palma is just as positive….       

A dance with the Atlantic

IMG_8524

It was 1.59 am and I sleepily popped up to the cockpit for my watch. I saw that Ross was steering and thought, “Oh, oh! Something happened to the autopilot.” He told me it had started acting up a couple of hours before. He told me what course to steer and off he went to bed.

 

I took the first hour of our four watch. It was still dark although the nearly full moon peeked out from under the clouds every now and again illuminating the control panel and the sails. I had already tried out the helm the second day so it wasn’t a stranger to me. I like to really feel a new boat and steering is the best way. The waves were coming at us from the port side and she was relatively easy to stay on course. I was still waking up, so after 10 minutes I sat down and when I was comfortable steering from seated, used my foot instead of my hand. Memories of Captain Cool and Trade Wins started flooding back….

 

Malika took the second hour. I got something to drink, had a stretch as my back has been a bit stiff lately, did my daily squats and arm exercises and had a break from the wind. Then I went back up to watch for ships and the night sky. Oh how the stars fall continuously in the open sea with no light pollution. I will never tire of the breathtaking beauty of the stars and planets. It really is stunning and I feel so privileged to experience it.

 

The third hour came and it was my turn again. The moon was still shining brightly behind us.  In front of us the morning sky was turning a pale gentle blue mixed with light pink and bright orange. I could see the waves more clearly now and I had fully woken up so I stood at the helm. The hour seemed like five minutes and I told Malika I was having fun and unless she really wanted to steer, I would keep going for a while. The “a while” lasted until the end of our watch.  

 IMG_8735

The boat stayed on her course so easily. As the moon shone brightly, a memory of my second trip with Captain Cool shone just as brightly. It was about 1 in the morning and we had just left the mouth of Cartagena bay. It was a windy night with big rolling waves (much like this morning’s) and the autopilot kept acting up. Eventually CC said that it was best if he steered us past la isla because there were a lot of reefs we could hit if we didn’t stay on course.  

 

I remember sitting in the pilot seat watching CC in absolute awe. He was standing with his legs wide apart, gracefully bending each knee as the boat tipped from side to side with the waves. He would look up at the sails and to the side where the waves were coming from. Then he did a beautiful dance with the wheel to ride over the wave and keep close to the wind while keeping course. He looked so beautiful, so peaceful, so at one with the boat. I felt like I was interrupting an intimate moment between a couple deeply in love. I watched him thinking, “I want to do that one day.” I kept silent, just watching and taking in his movements and how he worked the boat as if it was one of his limbs. I wanted to memorise it so when he taught me how to steer, I could do the same.

 

We made it past la isla and he put the autopilot back on. I said to him, “That was one of the most beautiful dances I’ve ever seen. Please teach me how to do that.” He just put his hand on my knee and smiled. He later told me that it’s not about teaching, it’s about feeling.  Not long after, he taught me how to steer and then I had lots of practice during those 15 months our autopilot was broken. I started to understand how to feel for the waves, how to work with the gusts of wind and how to dance with the sea.

 

This morning the image came back to me. Not because I was trying to remember how to do it, but because I realised I was doing the dance. Not as masterfully as CC, but I was doing it. My legs were wide apart to keep the balance and to feel her movement better. I was swaying from side to side with the boat never losing balance. As the sky lightened, I could see the waves more clearly. They were coming from port side and from the stern. It was so fun being lifted up from the stern by three and four meter waves and watching the bow becoming air borne before sinking down back into the sea. I watched the bows of the hulls and made small movements to keep within 5 degrees of my course. I was relaxed, I wasn’t even thinking that hard about what I was doing. I was watching the sea and the compass and after about 20 minutes, became an extension of the boat and it felt so beautiful. The waves, the wind, the gusts, the sails, the rudder, the wheel and I were all one, dancing a beautiful dance.  

 IMG_8618

I’ve been doing yoga and/or meditation every morning from about 4 a.m. That’s the benefit of being on a big catamaran! This morning I was going to do some meditation from 5-6, but realised that steering was the best meditation for me this morning. When the sun squeezed through the clouds. I closed my eyes for a second, took in a deep breath of fresh salty sea air and smiled. I expressed my gratitude for having had such a great sailing instructor, to have the willpower to pursue my dreams and to the universe for putting these opportunities in my path so I can grasp them. Last, but not least, I was grateful for the skill and opportunity to dance with the sea, my favourite dance partner of all times. Luckily I have a lifetime ahead of me to perfect and master this dance just like Captain Cool.

Day 7: Why I can’t be in a bad mood on the sea

IMG_8608

Day 7: I can’t lie, I woke up at 8.15 this morning a little bit crabby. I didn’t sleep well from after dinner until 1.30 am because it was rough. The waves were hitting the port side hull, which is where my cabin is. In the bow too, the rockiest place.  I had a nice sleep from 6.20 a.m. until about 7, when it felt like someone was hitting me in the ear. It was just my head being smacked into the pillow with each crash of the waves. I have definitely been woken up in more pleasant ways.  Not to mention I’m either allergic to something or have a bit of a cold, so I really could’ve used the sleep.

 

I went up and looked outside and my attitude instantly changed. It was amazing!!!! The sea was one immense pool of white caps and huge rolling waves. Some were up to six meters tall. I smiled and enjoyed doing the sailors walk to the galley to make myself something to eat. I went up to the cockpit for a while to enjoy the scenery and then decided I really needed to sleep so I grabbed my pillow and duvet and slept on the sofa in the salon.

 

I woke up ready to do my afternoon shift. I went to my bathroom to put on some sun cream and as I was standing in front of the sink, a huge, I mean HUGE wave came. I felt us go up, pause, then my feet lifted up and my stomach came up to my chest as we came over the other side. I smiled at myself in the mirror and said, “Oh yeah, I’m ready!” I finished getting ready, put my foul weather gear on and bounced up to the cockpit. As I came up, the sun was shining brightly and the waves looked even more impressive from this angle. The two who were on watch laughed at me as my eyes got big and I said, “WOW!!! Oh my god this is soooo cool!!” My shift partner came up and she too smiled hugely with a shine in her eyes. It’s great to sail with great crew. Even better when they are true sailors!

 IMG_8616

For those of you who have been following my blog for a while, you will know that I love doing solo watches because I put my headphones in and dance the watch away. I’m sparing Malika the sound of my voice and unique dance moves, but today I didn’t care. I put my headphones in (actually a borrowed pair because the crazy chef on the last boat stole mine…), put on Paul Oakenfold and had my own private party as I watched in awe at the power of the sea. It was incredible. These waves are like nothing you see anywhere else. We are in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean! We are 1000 nautical miles from land, it would take a day or more to get help if we needed it.  Now you understand that these waves have nowhere to go, they just roll and roll endlessly and keep their height. They lift the boat up and sometimes gently place it down, others times slamming it down so that the spray comes out from under the hulls and a reflexive “Woo hoo!!” escapes from the giant relaxed smile on my sun kissed face. I had tears of joy, bliss, awe, respect, admiration and pure enjoyment pouring from my eyes. I was so grateful for this opportunity, so grateful to be a sailor, so grateful for this moment. Actually, I was grateful for every moment I’ve had on this boat because it has all been beautiful in it’s own way.

 

Today is the birthday of my Aunt who died 20 years ago. Although I was only 18 when she passed, she taught me a million life lessons I have never forgotten. She touched the souls of everyone she met as she had a beautiful energy about her that just made you want to be in her presence. She had a laugh like no other and a smile that lit up her face as well as those in the room with her.  As I was sitting in pure gratitude for this amazing moment, I saw two white birds (I’m not very good at the names of sea birds!) fishing in the giant waves. At first I marvelled at how they flew so far. Then I knew.  It was my Aunt and my Grandpa, her Dad, letting me know they were watching over me. It gave me the opportunity to thank them for guiding me in the right direction. A direction which is full of adventure, lessons, amazing experiences, great people, love, challenges and most importantly, peace.

Why I love the sea

IMG_4394

I am surrounded by absolute endless beauty. Beauty of the deep blue sea, beauty of the occasional bird that comes to play with our sails, beauty of the vast and enormous 360 degree view of the amazing sky, beauty of the soothing and sometimes violent movement of this giant catamaran, beauty of the people I am with and the beauty of my soul as it opens and relaxes into pure bliss. Due to my watch, I have two sleeps during a 24 hour period.  I go to bed after sunrise and then again a couple of hours after sunset. I wake up each time with a childlike excitement to see what the sea and sky have in store for me when I go up to the enormous flybridge cockpit that is my office.

 

Many people ask me why I would want to do a crossing. My favourite response was from my 6 year old niece, “All that time on a boat? You can’t get off? How boring!” I don’t find anything boring about this experience. In fact, we’re in day five and I’m already worried I’m not going to complete everything I want to. Which is reading, writing, yoga, meditation and soaking in every breath taking moment of this truly magical experience.

 IMG_8598

Sailing on the open sea is a form of meditation for me. A very deep and peaceful meditation. I find that everything in my surrounding is a metaphor for life and with this, I feel connected to the universe. It gives me a chance to clear my head and re-evaluate life. I feel privileged that I get paid to have this unique opportunity that every human being could benefit from. Maybe not in the form of the sea because not everyone is a sailor, but in whatever form makes you feel grounded.

 

All of the elements of this experience relate somehow to life. Let’s start with the boat. The boat is like our bodies that hold our souls as we walk through this life. The boat is carrying us to a new destination, just as the body does in daily life.  If we care for it, maintain it well and feed it properly, it will do all that it can to get us to the next destination safely. Love it we do! We are all happy with the comfort this boat provides. We are amazed and grateful for the capacity and strength it has to hold the sails that carry so much force. We all do our part to keep it clean and organised, the salt water is washed off every few days and she looks beautiful. I am honoured to be crew on this beautiful boat with such caring and loving people.

 IMG_8577

The wind is like our energy. The speed fluctuates depending on the day and the hour. Much like our energy levels naturally fluctuate during the day. The wind also changes direction, like humans change their minds. There is nothing wrong or malicious about it. Sometimes the direction of the wind means that we have to change our course.  People in our lives change their minds and it means we have to alter our course. For example, the end of a relationship or a death of someone close to us. We have been going on one path and suddenly, the wind changes and we’re forced to make a new path. The beautiful thing is that we will always reach our destination, it may take a little longer than we thought. It will no doubt bring many beautiful experiences and people into our path we may not have met if the wind hadn’t changed direction.

 

With the wind changes, sailors have to adjust the sails. Much like we have to adjust our attitudes to what’s happening around us. Often times we don’t have control over the actual events, but we have every bit of control over how we perceive them. Sometimes we have to reduce the sails or take them down all together before putting them back up. This is true for life too. Sometimes we have to hit rock bottom before we can climb the mountain again. Then we are on top of the mountain and we may have to trim our sails to the wind so we can live life to our fullest ability.  One thing is for sure, the wind is always changing in some sense and we must always be aware of how the sails are and what we can do to prevent damage or losing them altogether. To be a healthy human being, it is important to be aware of how we are feeling, thinking, behaving towards others and towards ourselves. A content peaceful human being is constantly performing these checks and adjusting when necessary, in order to prevent harming others or themselves. It doesn’t mean to say we won’t hit rock bottom from time to time, it’s only to say that we accept this will happen and know what we need to do to lift up the sails again.

 IMG_8564

Then there is the sea. The waves are like events that happen in our lives. Sometimes we can predict them and prepare for them, other times a squall comes from nowhere and knocks us out.  During certain periods of our lives, the sea is calm and we gently sail over the waves comfortable and happy. Then the seas become rough and we start to move out of our comfort zone, maybe into panic, anxiety, fear, anger or depression. When the seas and wind get really rough on a sailboat, the best thing to do is to lower the sails and wait it out. Putting more sails up or turning the engines on to barrel through the storm will only lead to disaster. I think this is what us as human beings have forgotten. Life will always throw us challenges and we can’t change it. The best thing to do is accept it and ride the waves.  Somehow we have developed this mentality to get aggressive, to change it, to storm through it until we get the results that we want. Results that often don’t come when we are in this mind frame.  Stay on your boat in the storm and accept it.  Fill your boat with people who bring you comfort and joy and offer you support. Yes life is hard sometimes, but there is always something beautiful, no matter how small and for how short or long it happens. I can’t tell you the amount of times a stranger has smiled at me when I most needed it and that 5 seconds brought me enough comfort to lift my head.     

 IMG_4398

I look out all around me and see this vast endless beautifully unique blue sea.  Then I look up at the sky and admire it’s beauty and always changing endlessness.  The clouds represent opportunities that present themselves to us. They will pass with the wind if we don’t grab them.  The never ending sea reminds me that we never know what is around the corner. It’s easy to forget there is land. I haven’t seen it for five days now! It’s easy to forget I have another life where there are other people who’s dynamics I have to manage with my own. Yet at the same time, it reminds me that there is so much opportunity in land life and that with open eyes and the right attitude, I can call whatever I choose. Yes, life can be a challenge sometimes, but if it wasn’t, we would never appreciate the beautiful times.

 IMG_8649

All in all, it’s about acceptance. I am completely powerless on the open sea and I find it completely invigorating.  I am powerless to the weather, the waves, to when we arrive, to stopping and getting a food or drink that I am craving. It’s a beautiful way to learn acceptance and patience and to truly learn to appreciate what is in front of me at this given moment. What I see is incredibly beautiful and I know that it has to end one day, but I’m just going to focus on the beautiful moments of each second I am here. Now if I can accomplish this in my land life, I will be exactly where I want to be and hopefully help other people reach it too.  

 

 

Return to the sea

IMG_8612.JPG

Ahhhhhh….. I can finally breathe again! I see nothing around me except blue, blue and more blue. My shoulders have fallen away from my ears, the crease in between my eyebrows has disappeared and a gentle smile fills my face at all times. Yes, I’m back on the open sea. I’m home and I’m totally in my element. Probably because I can feel all of the elements. The wind slightly burning my face, the sun warming my already sun kissed body, the sea giving me gentle kisses as it occasionally sprays up over the bow and into the cockpit, the rain rinsing the damage from my time in St Maarten and the clouds offering me protection from sunburn. I am totally at one with nature and with myself.

 

As I said earlier, I lost myself in St Maarten and I hadn’t met anyone to help pull me out. Five days before my contract with my boat was up, I really started to panic about what was going to happen next. I took some time out to do a long yoga practice as the sun rose over the beautiful mountains in front of the marina. I called their grounding energy and I asked my angels to help me. I asked them for a boat crossing the Atlantic to Palma so that I could get on the sea again and try to look for sailboat work there. The next day I woke up as usual and started working with little enthusiasm, counting down the days until I was done, while at the same time calming my panic. Around 10 am, I checked my phone and received this message, “Hi Sarah. We’re crossing the Atlantic from St Maarten to Palma on the 30th of April. Are you interested in going?” My heart skipped a beat, I looked up to the universe, smiled and said, “Thank you!!” I replied asking where he was and if we could meet. It didn’t really matter. I already knew I was going. I had a good feeling and it was the answer to my calling.

 

I met the Captain and the crew who all seemed so nice, laidback and friendly. The Captain said, “You seem cool, so if you’re up for it, come join us.” I smiled and said, “I’m definitely up for it. Thank you so much.” This is day three and it has been amazing. We all get along well, have fun together, yet respect each other’s space. The boat is big so there is plenty of space. I have my own cabin and am living in luxury. I have a huge waterfall shower, a double bed, I’m cooked for, someone does my washing and they would clean my cabin if I allowed them to, but I won’t. Did I mention I get paid? Yes, this is definitely the life for me!!

IMG_4463.JPG 

The first two days were a bit rough emotionally. I didn’t feel like speaking to anyone. I just wanted to speak to my true life partner, the sea. We had some chats, she soothed my soul and gave me faith in myself again. With each sleep (and I slept a lot the first two days!!), I felt stronger physically and emotionally. Today, I stayed awake and got to know the crew who are such interesting people. The universe clearly brought us all together for a reason because we have so many common threads. I think we will definitely be helping each other out in the future. The boat is beautiful, a huge catamaran that dances nicely with the sea. A lot smoother than I thought. I took her off autopilot today and steered for a while to see how she moves, wow she really loves the wind. I hardly had to move the wheel at all. I was and still am in heaven.

 IMG_8512.JPG

I seemed to have caged that crazy monkey again that was running around my brain.  It’s great because I have a whole new journey ahead of me. I will get to Palma with no job, no place to stay, but with all the anticipation and excitement a new journey brings. And the next time that crazy monkey escapes, I know how to tame him….