A bit of yoga magic

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Well that was really interesting. I wrote my previous blog as we were cruising down the river. To be honest, Captain Dink was making comments throughout that writing which were really irritating me and helping give me some practice to repeat my newfound mantra over and over.

 

CD asked me to take over steering so that he could phone a marina. I’ve been steering nearly every day for the last two weeks so I’m not a novice. I haven’t driven down a river since I was a child and of course the rules are very different to sea rules, but there are some things that are common sense and related.  Anyway, we were going down river in a very fast current. I was steering rather well, or so I thought. Of course I was going a bit drunk like because it was the first time I had been in current so strong in this boat, but there were no other boats so I was ok. CD puts the phone down and says, “Jesus Christ! What have you been doing? You’re going to turn the boat sideways and then we’re going to lose all control and crash into the riverbank.” I found this quite dramatic since at no point was I steering the boat any more than 20 degrees off to one side. He came barrelling over, grabbed the wheel from my hand and corrected us, or should I say overcorrected us with his unnecessary panic.

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I calmly said that I was doing what he taught me to do yesterday and that if there was a new technique, can he please show me with patience as I’m still learning. I said there was no need to swear. His response was that he never swears and when I said, “Jesus Christ,” he said, “That’s not a swear word.” I remained silent. Then the cook/stew came up and sat next to me. I started telling her how I read the oven manual and am now an expert in Miele ovens so I will show her what I learned. I was looking straight ahead and not at her. At the same time I saw a huge barge coming in the other direction, CD said in a very angry aggressive tone, “Ok. Now there’s a big barge coming…” He didn’t finish because I interrupted him and said that he makes me very nervous when I’m driving because he has to comment on every little thing I do or don’t do. He started arguing with me saying that if he can’t say anything to me, there’s no point in me driving. I explained calmly (for I still had my yoga glow going) that he can simply say, “Do you see the boat coming?” or tell me to move to a different side of the river. I was already as far over as I could be, so really there was no need to panic and talk aggressively.

 

He stood up and said, “Ok, I’m going to take over.” I replied, “As you wish.” I sat for a few minutes and then explained to him that I may never have been a river barge driver before, but I worked on charters where I was steering in a busy channel with 15 people around asking me questions. I said I can see a big barge coming my way because I am paying attention as I was looking forward, not at who I was talking to. I told him that he is very aggressive when he tells me things and that it’s unnecessary. Before he could say anything, I said, “And I know you’re going to say you’re not aggressive, but you are.” Then I finished by saying, “or since this job is for only two more months, maybe I should just shut my mouth and deal with it.”

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Captain Dink remained in silence for hours, only talking when necessary during a manoeuvre.

 

I was starting to feel quite bad about my conversation and internalised it thinking maybe it’s me that just needs to chill out. That’s his personality so instead of trying to change it, I should just keep on working on ways to deflect negative energy. He’s not coming to me as a psychologist, so I should just keep my opinion to myself and find my own way of managing his at times very disrespectful behaviour. I quickly negated that thinking because actually he treats everyone that way and it would help him make friends if he could see his own behaviour.

 

Then the weirdest thing happened. When I asked him if he wanted the line on the port or starboard side, he paused a while then said, “Sorry, I had to think a minute which side was which.” I smiled and stopped myself from hugging him. That was the first time he had ever shown any vulnerability. It got weirder… He asked us what we were doing for dinner. If we were going to eat out or eat in. I said, “I don’t know, what do you think?” He said very timidly with a slight smile, “Oh no! Don’t do that. Answer a question with a question.” I laughed and said, “I said I don’t know first, isn’t that an answer?” He smiled and we all had a discussion about what we wanted to do.  The cook/stew and I exchanged a surprised glance. For the first time in a week, we all ate dinner together. For the first time since we started working together, we had a conversation where he didn’t one up the story and he actually asked questions. If I didn’t believe in yoga before, I sure do now!!

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CD asked us if we wanted to go for a drink that evening. I was waiting for a phone call and on the laptop with my Dad trying to recover my external hard drive which suddenly became unreadable (and has 12 years of photos). I said that I would just finish up what I was doing and I would be ready to go.  With a sad look, he said he would go there and sit by himself. The boat was parked on the same dock as the restaurant so he went down and shouted up to us, “Hey, if I’m not back by midnight, just toss a blanket down!” He looked so vulnerable and nervous. I explained to my Dad that I would really like to go so maybe we could do the recovery later.  At the same time I was writing that message, I received the expected phone call. I had a quick chat and went to the bar with the cook/stew to meet him.

 

The three of us had a nice evening together. He was still sharing his stories, but they had a different light to them. He was listening to our stories and asking questions. He was even bent over with laughter at one point. Any guilty feelings I had disappeared. This is exactly what life is about. Sometimes people are so lost they don’t know how to, or can’t, ask for help. Some don’t want it and it’s not worth the energy. That’s ok, eventually they will find their way. But as human beings, it’s our responsibility to stand up for our right to be treated with respect, show kindness to others no matter how they treat us and give some people a different perspective that may just help make bring some more peace to their lives.  

A yoga experiment

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I’ve been reading and meditating on an ancient scripture I still can’t spell, despite looking at it every day, called Vasistha’s Yoga (at least I think that’s the spelling, I’m too lazy to get up and check it). When I used to ask my Mom about things that were told to us in Church or Religious Education that I didn’t believe, she would sometimes say that it was in the Bible if I wanted to read it. I tried once because my sister was reading it, but I didn’t understand the language and found it boring so I just gave up!

 

Vasistha’s Yoga has become my Bible. I refer to it when I have questions about the yogic way of living.  The more I read, the more questions I have and funny enough, they’re all slowly starting to get answered the further along I get in the book. This is quite a round about introduction to a question I have right now.  How not to let other people’s negativity effect me.  I have some friends and loved ones who don’t seem to get rattled by such people and yet sometimes a touch from a very negative person can set me off balance and change my mood for the whole day, or every time they’re in my presence.  If you ever wondered why I want to live on the sea- I mean in the middle of the sea – that is the main reason why.

 

Let me explain my current situation.  In laymen’s terms, the Captain of this boat is a complete and total dickhead. In yogic terms, he is one of two types of lost souls.  One that is far away from reaching enlightenment with a heap of bad karma to work through or a soul in the middle where with patience and some guidance, he may find a lighter path.  I haven’t been around him long enough to see which one he is, but as a yogi, it is my place to give him a chance.  

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I have done my psychoanalysis on him (Captain Cool was right, I can never stop being a psychologist) which has led me to believe that his behaviour is a result of a certain life that is quite sad and I could try to show some empathy. Sometimes I can feel empathy in my heart and my kindness is genuine.  The other 98% of the time, I have to take a deep breath before I go up with a smile on my face and say in a kind voice, “Would you like a cup of coffee?” Because what I would really like to say is, “Fuck you. You think we’re your maids you can treat like shit. Get your own damn coffee.” I then receive a response of “yes please” or no with the same droned on boring explanation that never changes.  I speedily make my way downstairs to do an eye roll to the cook or just to myself if she’s not around. If I have to make the coffee, numerous thoughts of spitting in it or putting in other unpleasant things go through my mind. Then the yogi steps in and reminds me we’re all on a path, some have it more difficult than others and the only way forward is to treat everyone with kindness or ignore them as the Scriptures of Putanjali suggest.

 

Sadly I can’t ignore him because he’s my boss. He is bullying the cook/stew, part of which includes giving me certain privileges she doesn’t have (which I don’t do once I discover them) and it just makes for a terrible environment. I often feel like I’m in middle school and have to change my strategy on a daily basis in order to stay sane and out of the middle of this nonsense behaviour. They spent two days not talking to each other. Yesterday I had a conversation with the cook about how people like him don’t have fuel when people are kind to them or just reply ok without discussion. I guess it worked because today she said good morning to him.

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I’m using the yoga scriptures to find a way to protect myself from this negative energy that I seem to have been ultra sensitive to since I can remember. I’ve seen a few shamans who have all told me that I hold other people’s negative energy and they see it inside of me. Sadly they haven’t told me how to get rid of it. I guess that means I have to discover it for myself. *sigh* I suspect my stomach problems are partially related to it as well since I seem to be able to eat more things without getting pins and needles when I’m in a good environment. As you can guess, I’m not only battling with how to manage the behaviour of Captain Dink, I’m also having to manage my stomach which as I write this, is in agony. Luckily the cook is very caring and wants to help so she is making me what I request. Sadly this means she cooks three separate meals because she wants something with more flavour than what I can eat and she doesn’t want to eat the processed food that Captain Dink eats. She’s a saint.

 

I keep digressing, how unusual… Anyway, I’ve wondered how people can become enlightened and still live in this world because people are annoying. Not everyone, but there are always some people in our paths who press buttons. Put simply, Vasistha says that the soul is contained in a physical body with a mental capsule and it will react how it wants to through laughters, tears and anger. Yes my readers, that means that even enlightened people show emotion and get irritated! The basis is that in the soul nothing is changed, the soul remains grounded and knows that this will pass and that indeed nothing is reality. We are just creating reality ourselves so why bother staying in any state whether it’s pleasant or unpleasant?

 

The other morning during my delightful two hour yoga and mediation practice, I pondered this notion of protecting myself because I want to run from this boat. Actually I’m seriously thinking about going back to Colombia and working with Captain Cool again. The money is half the amount, but so is the work and I get to spend time with someone who I am discovering is not only a soulmate, but one of the truest loves I’ve ever had in this life. However, I do have a tendency to run when things get difficult, as you may have noticed. People say life isn’t meant to be fun, well, I disagree with that so if I’m unhappy, I change my circumstances. Sure new challenges come up, but look at my life!! I wouldn’t change a thing.

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Back to the point… While I was in a focused state, an image of a white ball with pointy rays of light emerged from my chest and I felt so strong and so free. I imagined this ball encapsulating me and that the white rays were radiating positive energy, kindness and love to those who were willing to receive it.  The pointy bits burst all of the negative energy so it couldn’t touch my heart. With a somewhat quiet mind, I focused on this imagery and when a thought about Captain Dink popped up, I would use the white light to poke the negative energy and replace it with positive energy. I felt great. I felt like I was ready to face the demon!

 

Half an hour later that feeling was washed down the river when he shouted at me with impatience to take off a line I was trying to take off, but was stuck on the dock and the boat was too far for me to jump off without swimming to clear it. *sigh* Oh well. I found a new strategy so I guess it will take some practice to get it working.

 

This job is only until the middle or end of September so really I shouldn’t run from this. Don’t get me wrong, it’s very intense living with such a heavy ball of negative energy 24-7.  But I can use this as a lesson because there are always people who pop my chilled yoga bubble and quite frankly, I’m tired of giving other people so much power. It’s time to take the power back and use my energy to radiate positivity and kindness instead of using it to fight off negativity. Wish me luck…

 

    

 

No need to panic, the sea is here..

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I quickly stripped down to my bikini and ran towards the sea. Despite living and working on boats, it’s actually quite rare I’ve had the chance to go swimming. The last time was weeks ago when we were anchored in Sardinia and we had a couple of days to prepare the boat before the owners came. I welcomed the cool touch of the sea on my legs as it refreshed me of the intense heat of the day. I walked until it was deep enough for me to dive into a wave and wash away all the stress, all the negativity and all of the things that were no longer serving me. As the wave washed over me, I smiled under the water and started feeling free. I dumped the negative energy into the sea knowing that it would be swept away into the endless cleansing motion of the sea and after that, it was my choice if I wanted to pick it up again.

 

It didn’t work out with my ‘dream job’ and so I quit, quite abruptly but with a huge sense of relief that I didn’t have to spend my summer as a slave. When I told friends, they asked with worry if I was ok and I would always smile. Yes! I mean, don’t get me wrong when your job is also your home and you have three hours to sort out a new place to live, it can be quite intense, but I am a survivor and I have been in this situation before so I am well rehearsed.  

 

I spent a good half hour swimming and floating on my back looking at the rough and ragged rocky edge of the cove. I was by myself in the water and enjoyed the time I had with my true love.  I took in deep breaths filled with love, peace and hope knowing that all will be ok as long as I keep breathing and trusting.

 

I reluctantly walked back to my towel where my hours old friends were sitting. I sat down with a smile and told them how refreshing it was. I leaned back and as they chatted away in Spanish, I stared out towards the sea. There was good wind so there was a plethora of sailboats with their sails full of air sailing away in the distance. I suddenly felt a deep wave of sadness, panic and disappointment that I was on the ‘other side’ looking in. The crazy monkey in my brain was telling me I was missing out, that I will never find a job and that I should just give up this stupid dream of mine to live on the sea. As quickly as those thoughts and feelings popped up, I quickly calmed the monkey. For as I said above, it is my choice to pick up the negativity. I didn’t want to for there is no need.

 

I reminded myself to enjoy the moment. I have an unknown number of days off in a row, something I haven’t had in four months. In fact, I hadn’t had two consecutive days off in the last four months and when I get a new job, it will be the same. So why stress about the future when there is a now to enjoy? I laid back, closed my eyes and took a deep breath in as I smiled and vowed to allow myself these moments of panic, but to always come back to the present. I started to tune into the Spanish conversation and took advantage of the present moment by engaging in the conversation so I could practice my Spanish. From time to time, my gaze would wander to those beautiful sailboats moving with nature.  I smiled knowing that I will get back on one, when the time is right and when I have experienced exactly what I’m supposed to experience right now.

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The future is unknown, but I will be exactly where I’m supposed to be when I’m supposed to be there. That’s all that matters. 

Finding that peaceful place

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The other night I was sat on the boat getting a new perspective of Palma since we are up high on the dry dock, and I noticed a beautiful old city on the horizon. A horizon which is within walking distance and always has been. I finished my evening meal and decided that Sunday was going to be spent exploring.

 

As I walked through the narrow medieval old streets, seeing Palma in a new light, I realised that I was so busy not liking the city, that I didn’t even try to find something I liked. That was so unlike me. Normally I see new places with open eyes and find lots of little things I like. I spent two weeks here with the catamaran and I only went to the places that were around the marina we were in or wherever my crew mates wanted to go. I really enjoyed twisting and turning through the narrow streets, looking at the buildings, taking photos and imagining what life must’ve been like when this was first built. There were so many flowers, lots of bright purple which seems to be the flower colour of the Mediterranean. It’s beautiful and really stands out against the clay coloured buildings.

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I came up to a really old Church tucked away in a corner of the old city. There was no one in that street. I could hear the TV of one of the flats echoing through the tunnel the narrow street created. As I entered the courtyard, I saw an old man quietly talking to someone in a car which was parked in front of the church. They were too involved in conversation to notice I was there so I quietly sneaked in to the Church. Ahhh….a deafening silence. I stood there for a moment breathing in the musty smell that old churches have and letting my eyes adjust to the darkness. It was a hot day, yet the Church was nice and cool. I tip toed to the nearest bench in the back and involuntarily took a deep breath. Then the tears just started flowing. I didn’t even know they were there.

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Religion has always been very important to my family, so I went to a Catholic school, mass 1-2 times a week and religious education classes when I switched schools. I hated it. I didn’t understand why anyone could want to be a part of this.  To me every second of being in a Church was pure torture. I had to sit and listen and just be quiet. Then I had to go to confession once a month and confess my sins – a list that never varied because I wasn’t ever going to tell the truth of what I really did!! Not only that, but it was full of rules. Those who are close to me know that any rules I’m given will be purposely broken as soon as I can manage it. Give me freedom and I flourish.

 

I don’t know how my Mom put up with it, but she was persistent. Years and years and years of fighting to get me up and going to Church every single Sunday. I would argue, say horrible things about her faith and make up excuses of why I couldn’t go.  The only response I got was, “When you turn 17 and have your confirmation, you can make your own decision, but while you are still a child in God’s eyes, you will go to Church. ” I must’ve started the countdown when I was three years old!! Sure enough, I had my confirmation and that was the last time I went to Church on a weekly basis.

 

I haven’t found the Catholic faith, but I’ve found the yoga philosophy. I quite like it because it has general guidelines of how to live life that I can interpret and incorporate into my life in my own way. This suits me much better! Now I’m grateful that my Mom stuck with the fight, because I get it. It wasn’t until a few years ago when I was saying in the teenage voice, “Do I have to go to Church with you on Christmas???” when my Mom said, “It’s my peaceful place and if you don’t want to be there, it won’t be peaceful. I’m not going to make anyone go who doesn’t want to be there.” It all the sudden made sense. She wasn’t trying to stick the religion down my throat, she was trying to teach me that we all need a peaceful place where we can go to when we need to breath, feel comfort, cry or just be. Sounds like something I believe in… What a beautiful gift she gave me. I’m sure she’s happy that her efforts were fruitful, even though it was years and many battles later.

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For me, that place can be my yoga mat depending on where it is. I have had many a breakdown on my mat.  I have spent lonely times sat in child’s pose for extended periods of time focusing on my breathing and feeling some comfort from my mat and the earth below it. However as yoga has no temple to speak of, I discovered that churches can give me that peace too.  

 

When I went travelling, my boyfriend at the time broke up with me over email and I was devastated. I was sharing a room with three strangers and had nowhere to breakdown. I wandered around the city with my sunglasses on hiding the tears. Then I stumbled upon a church and thought that was a good place to cry. So I went in and just sobbed. That was the first time I went into a church without hating it and feeling as though I was going to instantaneously burst into flames due to my sinful ways. It was so quiet, calming and had a warm energy. It became my go to place when I was feeling lonely, sad or lost whilst on my travels.

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Actually, recently, a good friend of mine reminded me of that fact when I was feeling down and lost. She suggested I go there to find some comfort. I was drawn to that church on Sunday. This lifestyle can be very lonely at times and I’m really feeling it at the moment. Stepping into that Church reminded me I’m not alone and that all I have to do is trust and keep going. It also gave me that space to have a moment to not be ok. Something I don’t always do when I’m in new situations because I “must be strong!” I thanked the space for giving me comfort and walked out feeling much lighter and dare I say, with a gentle smile on my newly relaxed face…

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The Magic of the Spanish Coast

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Last night around 8 pm, we could see the continents of both Africa and Europe. To me, it was completely surreal. Two totally different continents that are so close yet have such different cultures, landscapes, economic statuses, races and religious practices. There was something very humbling about that view. They were both mountainous yet one side was full of lights and the other almost nothing.

 

Unfortunately we went through the narrowest part of the strait and past the Rock of Gibraltar when it was night time so I wasn’t able to see that beauty this time. This will not be the last time I do a crossing so it’s better that I don’t see all of the magic the first time.

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I had been doing yoga on the sofas upstairs in the cockpit, but this morning I pulled out my yoga mat and did yoga on the deck as the sea was calm and there was hardly any breeze. I could feel the energy and power of the sea and the mountainous Spanish coast seep into my lungs as I inhaled deeply. I exhaled out all of the negative energy I was holding and let it go into the sea. Spain and the Spanish people have always taken care of me, they will do it again. There is no reason to worry or stress, I am in a beautiful place with beautiful people. I will be taken care of and there is something great waiting for me here, I know it. I don’t know what it is, I will be patient and just breath until it comes my way.

 

When I was on my 2-6 a.m. night watch, I suddenly realised that we would be passing the coast of Nerja. Nerja is a place where I holidayed for four years when I was with one of my ex-boyfriend’s. It’s a very very special place to me and my stomach got butterflies thinking that I would see it again after an eight year break. However I would be seeing it from a different view, with a different perspective on life and with different company. I estimated about when we would arrive and I set my alarm perfectly.

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I woke up at 9.10 and I jumped up to look out my cabin window. I could feel it, Nerja was right there. I got dressed and popped upstairs to look at the GPS chart. Sure enough, we were just coming to the edge of it. I ran up to the cockpit with excitement and shared why I was so excited with the crew members that were up there. As we slowly passed it, all of the memories came back. The days lying on the same beach chair owned by the same guy who always remembered our names. The yummy paella and pasta that we had at the beach restaurant served by a waiter who never forgot my ex-boyfriend because he had been going there for 10 years. The run to the shops to buy vodka and orange Fanta for the beach. The romantic walks in the city along the cobblestone streets. The tapas and beer we had after a day on the beach and a nap.  I remembered his friend’s villa where we always stayed. Perhaps the fondest memory I have of Nerja is when my parents came with us. I had never seen them so happy and carefree, so in love and enjoying all of the new experiences we were showing them. It was the first time I had the opportunity to show them a new place, to take care of them (I speak Spanish, they don’t) and to show them a part of my world. They looked so beautiful and alive and I was so happy to be able to bring them this joy.

 

I sat in the cockpit by myself away from the others just reminiscing about those times, how good they were, how good all of my life has been. As we passed Nerja, I continued to think about life and how good Spain has been to me. It’s not just Nerja that has a piece of my heart, it’s also Toledo where I spent three weeks on a University course studying archaeology. In those three short weeks, I made friends with some of the locals and felt like I was a part of their community. Then there was Madrid and Barcelona, where I had to smoothly talk a Police Officer out of arresting my boyfriend (same one as discussed above) for mooning cars while we were going across a crosswalk. I had forgotten how many special memories Spain holds for me.

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I couldn’t stop admiring the view, I was totally mesmerised by the breathtaking view in front of me. Sailing along the Spanish coast was the absolute perfect way to end the sail of a lifetime. The sunshine was shining brightly, the water was calm with sparkles of sunlight dancing on the surface. I was sitting up top with the sun warmly kissing my windburned smiling face. I was in pure meditation mode, I didn’t notice who was around me, I was so involved in the scenery. The Spanish coast is gorgeous. The Sierra Nevada is similar to the Colombian Sierra Nevada. It’s peaks jagged and rough reaching up to gather the energy of the sun and towering over the sea. Some of the peaks look like crinkled suede or  intricate woodwork carvings. There are hills upon hills within each peak creating tiny valleys for rivers to flow. They are full of different shades of brown and green.

 

A bit further down are many towns and farms. The farms are polytunnel farms so they can grow food throughout the year and faster. This requires a canvas, quite often white or light green which is spread out in sections over the sides of the mountains, close to the coast. One of the crew said it was an eyesore and maybe it is, but I could feel the energy of the nutrient earth. All of those vegetables that are (controversially) grown to give nourishment for bodies to function in this chaotic world.

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Those nourished bodies were in the cars I could see driving along the highway snaking around the mountainside. In between the hills there are bridges for them to pass over quickly. I saw lorries, cars, buses and trucks speeding along carrying people to work, a holiday destination or vehicles bringing goods and products to another part of the country or continent. It was so much life to see after so much endlessness of the sea. It didn’t feel overwhelming this time, it felt like I was an observer to a beautiful system of living. A system I wouldn’t mind being in for a short time before setting sail again.

 

Further down the mountains were the beautiful coastal towns. Some authentic and original, others built up with hotels. There were lighthouses on the scattered capes that reach out into the ocean as though they are drinking in the purity and vitality of the ocean water. These points are the connection between sea and land. I always find these capes so beautiful in their raw ruggedness. Their ability to be connected to both land and sea at the same time. What a powerful energy to hold. From time to time a brown sandy beach would pop up, sometimes with visitors sunning themselves and others only with the crashing of the ocean waves.

 

I am looking forward to the new story that awaits me in Palma. I will accept whatever opportunities may arise, however positive or challenging they will be. For there is always beauty, there is always the memory of a beautiful life I have had to date. In fact, it’s been so incredible that it’s hard to remember all of the beautiful times until I am placed back there. Life has such an amazing way of bringing us to where we need to be at exactly the right moment.

 

Making dreams come true

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My heart goes out to people who look at me and tell me that I’m lucky to have my life. They must truly believe that they don’t have the same choices I have or that they don’t have control over their life. They are really missing out on their full potential.

 

I do have a good life. It’s not necessarily the life everyone wants, but some people envy the freedom and lack of responsibility I have. Guess what? I’m not lucky, I made choices to be in my position. They weren’t always easy choices, I didn’t always have the agreement of my family, but I made them and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

Since accepting the job on a motor yacht back in February, I have received a few messages from friends saying they admire my ability to take risks. I love taking risks because every time I have, something incredible has come out of it. Whether it’s meeting an incredible new person or going on some cool adventure, something positive is always the result.

 

On the surface I appear to be excited and ready to jump with both feet forward, but to tell you the truth, the inside isn’t like that. My close friends will tell you. They will ask me how I am or if I’m ready and most of the time the response is, “I’m scared shitless and I don’t know how to be ready, so I’m just going to go for it because it always works out.” I normally have one or two days of sheer panic that someone close to me will hear about and have to comfort me and remind me of all the risks I took before and how they worked out. I will have personal moments of wondering if this is really a stupid thing to do and if I’m mentally stable.

 

Then I just close my eyes and jump. Sometimes I land on my bum first and have to wait for the bruise to go away, sometimes I have to turn around and go back but most of the time a beautiful story develops. The end result is that I always end up on my feet, exactly where I’m supposed to be. I’ve been all over the world, I’ve met incredible people, locals and other travellers that have touched my heart forever. I have experienced living in other cultures, I have seen the night sky in the middle of the Atlantic. I have known what it’s like to love numerous people. I have learned how to deal with heart break, ending relationships and moving on. I have found my place in the world. To wander free and endlessly like the beautiful waves that are crashing over the side of the boat and threatening to soak my computer!

 

The point is, we all have choices. Maybe we don’t like some of those choices and it prevents us from doing what we want to do now. That’s ok, just modify the plan to suit your current lifestyle. Dreams can always come true if you truly want them to become reality.

A naughty mast

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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.

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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.

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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!