A smashing final

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“Trim stay sail!!!” “Upwind. Keep it upwind. Shit ok, ease the main!! Ease the main!! Quick! Ease the main!I was in awe at how many orders the tactician was calling out in seconds.  The boat was heeled so much that I was standing on the vertical part which the guard rails go into. As the main sheet was trimmed too tightly, the boat was heeling more and more until the cooling sea water gently kissed my bare feet and I was desperately looking for something to hold onto. I looked at the crew member next to me,smiled and said, “Oh my god this is soooo coool!!!!” As they eased the sheets, the boat came up above the water line. 

 

My adrenaline was pumping. We crossed the start line too early so we had to do a penalty 360 and fell boat lengths behind the others. However we steered such a good course that we caught up with everyone and were nearly bow to bow with the boat in 1st place. “What the fuck is that guy doing??,” shouted what I like to call, the conductor (tactician). I looked around and saw a boat from a different class barrelling towards our port side. Our crew started shouting at him, “Starboard!! Starboard!!” 

 

He’s not moving and we can’t move because we are in between the winning boat and the committee boat that is marking the finish line. We are so close to the winning boat already that we could jump on to it. The conductor is still shouting instructions at the helmsmen as he can see better what’s going on. 

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As the bow of the other boat gets closer to our stern, the crew in the cockpit start jumping over things and towards the middle of the boat. The helmsmen keeps his cool and manages to keep a straight course as he casually walks around to the other side of the wheel to avoid being speared by the oncoming anchor. His 12 year old son is screaming and shaking. As I’m closest to him, I put my hand on him in a feeble attempt to calm his fear that his father is going to be killed. He looks at me with a deep look of helplessness as the anchor crashes into our port side stern. We are able to bear away a tiny bit, but the boat is still too close and hits us again scraping away the stern lifelines and leaving behind a scar of his blue paint. 

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That was the final knock and we cross the finish line second, in total shock as to what happened. “Why did Anna Bollina not bear away sooner???,” we all wondered. My captain asks if everyone is ok and then says, “They’ve crashed into another boat I was on, they should be banned from all races.” The owners’ son is left shaking and crying just wanting to get to land. 

 

We quickly gather our composure to bring down the sails and motor in to the bay. We are all in shock, the excitement of a close finish after being last by boat lengths tumbled into the sea. 

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However, this was my first time in a regatta and I refused to let their stupidity ruin one of the most exciting sailing experiences I’ve ever had! 

 

We completed three races and came second overall. A great result with a crew where only two people had ever raced before. There is so much excitement, adrenaline and manoeuvring going on it’s incredible. Each of us had a specific job and as we were all inexperienced, we listened to the conductor waiting to be told our instruction. Everything needs to be done quickly and the boats are so close to each other at the start and finish that a crash seems imminent! Sadly we know it can happen… 

 

The boat is heeled the entire time and those who aren’t involved in trimming the sails sit on the rails to get the boat down so that the keel is in the water to move faster. I watched the speedometer and at some points we were going 12.5 knots. The boat loves to sail and allowed us to get back in the race after we thought we lost it. She is a beauty and I have the utmost respect for her. The race appears to finish as soon as we begin, yet 1-2 hours have passed. 

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The noise of the sails going up, down and tacking seems as though she is going to break, but I know it’s just sheer power and she will hold. We had great wind for the last two races and I enjoyed the wind whipping through my hair and my feet being plunged into the sea as I pressed the electric winch and worked the code zero and gennaker halyards

 

The job hasn’t turned out to be how it was described to me (or the Captain), but then again, nothing is perfect. Captain T (for talent) is a skilled and experienced Captain who understands my learning style and has already taught me so much. We’ve learned quickly how to work and live together so I’m going to stick it out. It’s only for the summer and the experience and knowledge I’m gaining will last a lifetime. 

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The sailing world is still male dominated and sadly the racing world even more so. However I understand. A lot of strength is necessary. We have electric winches making jobs for women possible so instead of being disappointed that my chances of being on deck are slim in a more professional race, I’m grateful for the opportunity I had to participate in this race. Whether we won or lost was never important to me. What I wanted to experience was the teamwork involved and the excitement of being in a race.  That is exactly what I got!

 

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.

 

A dance with the Atlantic

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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.  

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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.  

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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.

Why I love the sea

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.     

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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.

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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

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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!!

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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.

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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….

My incredible journey

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Let me start from the end before I continue with the beginning.  I’m writing this from the upper cockpit of a 93 foot catamaran as we’re sailing past Ibiza at 20.30.  It’s our last day on sea of the most incredibly peaceful amazing Atlantic crossing. The third attempt was my lucky attempt and it was certainly worth the wait. The first time I was supposed to cross two years ago, something told me not to go. I was lucky and sadly the crew and boat were not, as they never made it to Europe and have never been found. Last year, well if you’ve been following my blog for a while, it was the story of the man with no toothbrush. This year, I was fortunate enough to score a delivery job on a mega catamaran with six epic people. I’m so glad I quickly got over my previous two attempts by believing that I will go on a crossing, but when the time is right. It certainly was this time.

 

It took us 21.5 beautiful days to cross, with a two day stop in the Azores for provisions. Every day was different, I never tired of the beautiful scenery. Some people may think it’s the same because it’s open sea, but it’s not. Every day the sea has a new mood, sometimes various moods in one day, the sea life comes out to welcome us to their paradise, the wind blows at a different pace and direction, and the sky is a moving slideshow. The days absolutely flew by. I was often so busy observing and contemplating the beauty around me that I didn’t have time to do all of the reading, writing, yoga and movie watching I thought I would do. The only time I watched films was when the weather was bad or my face was burned from strong winds.

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I had the privilege of being on a boat with six people who I know were meant to be doing this crossing together. The Captain and Engineer have been friends for years.  As two guys nearing 50, they decided that they needed a crew of five women, which is what they got! We are from various countries (three from South Africa, one from Australia, one Czech Republic, one France and me US/UK), with various stories of what we did before coming into the yachtie world. Everyone had a beautiful energy to them, even when there was some tension or bad moods on the boat. It was easy for me to enjoy my time on this boat because I could just be relaxed and not have to deal with overpowering negative energy. I started and finished each day with gratitude for life and in particular for this journey that words will never truly describe.

 

This trip was absolute luxury. I had my favourite watch 2-6 am and pm, which yes, did take it’s toll on me when we had rough seas and I couldn’t sleep between watches. During those days, it was usually calm during my watch meaning I missed the opportune sleep! The upside is that it’s hard for me to be in a bad mood when I’m on the sea. I’m completely in my element and get totally lost in the environment. I have so many ways of staying awake during night watches so it’s not an issue. We had a chef who cooked excellent food so I gained those few pounds that friends and family have been telling me I needed.  The stewardess did my laundry for me and I was in a guest cabin with a waterfall shower to wash off all the salt at the end of my shifts. Not my usual way of sailing, but hey, it’s work 😉 It will be just as beautiful when I have to cook, can’t do my laundry and don’t have the luxury of daily showers. The sea is my happy place in no matter what form I ride her.

 

Today, as I laid in my cabin with ice on my face after falling flat on it getting too cocky and doing crow pose during my yoga practice (turns out catamarans aren’t THAT stable!), I couldn’t help but lie in awe of life. On this journey I made it a priority to read more of my yoga scriptures and could really absorb the material and start to incorporate it into my life. One message was how we have absolute total control over our lives because we make our own reality. Nothing exists and everything exists. That line is repeated over and over in the scriptures and makes no sense, but total sense. I am creating this reality for myself. A reality which is full of adventure, opportunity, fun, interesting people and life lessons.

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I reflected on this whole journey which seems so short and long at the same time.  For once in my life, words and thoughts escaped me. All I felt was a radiating energy of gratitude, humbleness, peace and pure joy. Perhaps that’s a sign that this surely was the most incredible journey life has ever presented to me.

 

Many people think of nothing worse than being on a boat that you can’t leave for nearly 21 days. They would feel trapped. To me, it is pure freedom. Freedom from the energy of the chaotic world we live in, freedom from the good and bad influence of other people, freedom from the norm. The journey can sometimes be way more interesting and exciting than the arrival (like my Colombia to Florida crossing). There are no rules other than the ones that the crew on the boat make up. The journey can start and end wherever we or the weather decides.  To me, that’s liberation.

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I have written twelve blogs about my newest story from the plane ride from London until my arrival in Palma. If you don’t want to miss out on the reasons behind the crazy person who thinks being stuck on a little boat in the vast ocean with strangers is so incredible, scroll all the way to the bottom of this blog and select follow to sign up for email notifications. As far as I know, none of my followers have ever received spam so don’t be shy! Thank you for reading.         

So long motor yachts…


As I was lying on the aft deck watching the stars turn on, I couldn’t help but wonder what on earth happened. Six weeks ago, I was in London in such a peaceful place even though I had no idea what was going to happen with my life and now I seemed to have turned 180 degrees. Sure I still know that everything will be ok eventually, but I have been neglecting my yoga and spiritual practices for parties and I feel empty, lonely and lost.    

I was in a fragile state that night after a ‘good’ night and morning out.  I turned my thoughts of panic and self-disappointment into kindness, acceptance and forgiveness of myself. One helpful trait I have is that I am a social chameleon so it’s easy for me to thrive in whatever environment I am thrown into. The bad thing about that is when it’s not such a healthy environment. I was strong the first couple of weeks saying no to drinks. Then I started getting really lonely and when everyone else was drinking, I thought, “Ok, why not? That’s just what people do.” Then I started seeing the person I was in my early 20’s come out and I thought, “Oh goodness. I really didn’t like her, I thought she had left…” So what did I do? Continued to delve deeper to try and throw away the disappointed feelings I felt about myself. Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t gone totally off the rails, this job is physically demanding and I wanted to keep it, so I had to be responsible. It was just that losing my connection with yoga meant I was no longer being true to myself.   

 

I didn’t really tell any of my supportive and good friends how I was feeling or what I was doing. Why worry people unnecessarily? Then I realised that actually, I was worried about me and some support would do me the world of good. So I turned to Captain Cool, the anchor of my life for two years. It all went well until the phone calls after I had a bit too much to drink. As I was feeling insecure, it didn’t take much to misinterpret or become over sensitive to certain comments. One morning I woke up to a stern text message that spoke a lot of truths I didn’t want to hear but needed to. I asked if I could visit him and just get some grounding. I didn’t know for how long because I handed in my notice for this job and just wanted some time to figure things out. He agreed. There was either miscommunication or him not really wanting to see a me that he didn’t know, but he told me with his work schedule I could only stay three days. It wasn’t worth the money and I had nowhere to go after that, so it didn’t make sense to go. I was very disappointed and he sent me an apologetic text saying that he was standing behind me and giving me strength. I rolled my eyes, left my phone at home and went out with my new friends to forget about the harm I have caused him and myself.

 

As I marvelled at the beauty of the day changing into night on this boat that has given me so many life lessons, I took the advice of a good friend and didn’t beat myself up. Then I started thinking about the yoga philosophy and how they say that too. Sure, the monkey in my brain went a little crazy and took over, but it doesn’t mean that all is lost. I mean, how many years have I not been the person that is coming out now? How many years have I been working on improving myself and succeeded? It’s just a little slip, I’m stronger than this. I’m not in a good environment for many reasons I won’t share, but the things I will share is because I don’t like my actual job role as a stewardess, nor do I like being on a motor yacht. I thought a boat on the sea was a boat on the sea, but no, it’s not. Sailboats move differently, they carry a different energy and they connect and dance with nature. It’s more about enjoying the journey then going as fast as you can to get to the next place. Motor yachts tear through the waves scaring off all of the lovely fish and mammals, burning tons of fuel as they rush to get to the next destination. As I write this, I notice that perhaps this is why I have lost myself. I really connect with the energy around me and perhaps it was that motor yacht energy I connected with.

 

I am throwing off that energy. I have no idea what I will do on the 1st of May when I am free from this boat. I’m going to look for a sailboat job as a deckhand, but maybe that’s not what the universe has in mind for me either. Therefore I am going to spread out feelers to my yoga and massage connections as well and just see what happens. All I know is that contrary to what CC said, I am all alone. We all are. No one can make a decision for me on what’s best or what I should do next. I will of course accept words of support and encouragement, but that won’t ever give me the path that’s true to me. It will however, give me the strength to keep walking forward, especially when I have some falls and breaks. Now if you excuse me, there are five big sailboats here at the marina so I must puff my chest up, update my CV and re-connect with the Yogini Sailor.