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. 

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.

 

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!

The Azores

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.   

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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….