A typical day on the canals

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That’s a lie, a typical day in boating life is non-existent! But I can give you a summary of days that happen more frequently than not.

 

One reason why I love this particular job is because whether or not the owner is on board, I can wake up and do yoga every morning. On previous boats, when the owner was on board, I went to bed so late and had to wake up so early that I valued those five hours of sleep too much to take one for yoga.  I do yoga for about an hour if he’s here and 1.5-2 hours of yoga and meditation if he’s not. I do 20 minutes of coconut oil pulling (to rid myself of toxins and whiten my teeth. The teeth whitening really works!) first thing when I get up and use this time to read Vasistha’s Yoga.

 

After this, if the owner is on board, I change into my uniform and grab my chamois so that I can get the boat looking perfect before he wakes up. I chamois the stainless if there’s dew on it, wipe off any bird droppings and clean the hundreds of cobwebs. I’m so glad I’m over my fear of spiders because the river is a spider’s paradise and an arachnophobe’s nightmare! Clearing the cobwebs is my least favourite part of the job because they spin such beautiful homes and I feel bad destroying them.  If there’s dew on the windows, I take a squeegee and make the windows sparkle. Then the boss gets up, sometimes gives me tasks to do or I go in and help Ms Argentina serve breakfast.  I finish walking along the boat making sure there are no water stains or bird droppings as I prefer to take care of them before they are brought to my attention by the owner.  Throughout the day, I polish off fingerprints, do the required tasks, or help Ms Argentina with the interior.  Around 8.30 or 9 pm, the owner tells me to stop working and sometimes gives me money to go enjoy myself. The owner doesn’t like to stay in the same place for very long so quite often we cruise along the river and then I spend the day doing the lines in the locks. I love it! He’s normally at the bow with me so sometimes he gives me tips and he always says how well I’ve done. By the end of summer I’m expecting to be able to throw a lasso like a cowgirl.

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When the owner is not on board, it varies. Except my yoga routine. There’s always cleaning to do. This boat is 30 meters (98 feet) long and I’m the only deckhand so by the time I finish the bow, the stern needs cleaning again. The owner chooses spots far away from where we left him to meet him again so we can sometimes cruise down the river every day for four to five days before we have a break. I don’t mind, it’s chilled. There’s so many sites to see or sometimes I read or study outside in the cockpit. I usually steer for a couple of hours, do the lines through the locks and generally just enjoy the scenery. I can’t complain! It’s more relaxed when the boss isn’t here because the Captain doesn’t expect me to clean as we’re cruising along. Sometimes I do anyway because I don’t like a dirty boat!

 

On the odd day off, I take one of the boat bicycles and explore whatever area we’re in, try some of the local food and/or drinks or write. I work hard and don’t really have my own life because the owner can say he’s coming with only hours of notice.  However, there are so many advantages to this life that I don’t mind giving up my freedom. I know that in a couple of years, my salary is going to give me ultimate freedom!

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Yesterday, I spent the whole day de-calcifying and washing down the side of the boat that isn’t on the dock.  As I was balancing with a few toes in the groove of the side of the boat, the tip of my other big toe grazing the dinghy, and my go go gadget arm extending as high as it would reach to tie the dinghy line on the boat, I couldn’t help but smile. I am basically a boat cleaner. My eight year old niece could do my job, yet there’s no other way I would chose to ‘make a living’ right now. Visions of my office life came flooding back to me and I was so grateful that even though I’m far off from the typical University age, I found a new area to work in that gives me pleasure. There are many captains in their mid 40’s and older who are so tired of this job, yet it is all they’ve done and it’s difficult to retrain, especially for the salary they’ve been accustomed to! I really wanted a different life to the one I was leading and I was willing and did, give everything up to find what suited me better.

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So there you have it! Possibly not the glamour you thought this kind of job would have, but it’s the best job I’ve ever had!

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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…

 

    

 

Summer on the canals of Northern Europe..


Well, I’m spending my summer as a deckie cruising along the canals of Holland, Belgium and France on a fancy posh river barge/motor yacht thing. Never thought I would be saying that! It all started about three weeks ago. I was being patient waiting for a job to come my way. As mentioned in a previous blog, I had a bit of a panic which was quickly calmed. Then the next day I had two job offers and the following day two more. Mind you, none of them were for sailboats so I didn’t really want any of them. I took the first offer I received for day charters in Palma as it was going to be a trial.  I thought worse comes to worse, at least that day’s pay would pay for my rent that week.  

 

As I got home from that interview, my phone rang.  It was a call about working on a motor yacht/canal boat in Northern Europe. It wasn’t anything at all what I wanted and it was another private yacht so I thought, oh here we go again with the wife… I listened to the Captain and although I thought he was a bit weird, he seemed harmless and the job sounded interesting. I had two hours to think about it because they needed me to come in two days. This job was better then the Palma based job because it was live aboard so I wouldn’t have to worry about food or rent. I like free stuff, so I called the Captain back and said I would take it.

 

So here I am, two and a bit weeks into the job as a deckhand on a motor barge (I made that up)! It’s the only motor yacht built like this. The boat is classified as a motor yacht, but looks like a fancy barge. We’re like celebrities going down the river because it’s so unique.  People are so friendly. On the sea there is a hierarchy between boats depending on type and size. I’ve always thought that’s so ridiculous and continue waving to whoever I’m not supposed to wave to because at the end of the day we’re all humans who enjoy the sea. I usually don’t get a wave back from those who are “better” than me and I don’t care. Sometimes they give me a confused smile which just makes me laugh! Anyway, everyone waves at everyone on the river and when we park up on the side of a wall, people come talk to us. It’s so relaxing and refreshing.

 

It’s purely a deckhand job which I love and my skin is very nicely sun-kissed from all the polishing and line handling I’ve been doing. If I can’t be on a sailboat, this is a pretty good place to be.  For the summer anyway.  It’s much more physical work then I thought, which I’m happy about because I think physical activity is the key to a long life. Who would’ve thought that putting a line on a bollard and then pulling it in or easing it out when necessary can be so tiring! Sometimes I do that twice a day, sometimes ten or eleven. It’s nice because I get to be outside in the sunshine watching river life go by. There are so many geese, birds, little fish jumping, men and boys fishing (where are the girls?!?!) and people cycling or walking along the canal. It’s almost as peaceful as being in the middle of the sea with the sails up and a supportive wind. That is still my true love!

 

In the yachting industry, information about owners is extremely confidential so all I will say is, holy shit I won the jackpot!! He is incredibly nice, friendly, easy going, respectful and generous. He told me the other day that we were going to pass by some nice churches and châteaus and to please tell the stew/cook to come up and view them when I see them. There are too many owners out there who don’t see their crew as humans and don’t even give them a second thought except when they need something. He makes me want to work really hard because I know he appreciates my work and his please and thank yous are a sufficient reward.

 

The crew is a family of three. The captain, the stew/cook and myself. We work nicely together and the stew/cook and I have lots of fun together in our free time. We love to explore and see new things and talk to the locals. Most of all, we love to laugh like crazy and have as much fun as possible on and off the job.

 

We started in Maastricht, Holland and have cruised along the Meuse through Belgium and France.  There is a lack of water so the route we were going to do is going to change, but so far we have seen beautiful medieval churches, castles and châteaus. Sometimes it looks like a movie set. I didn’t know all of this stuff actually existed! This is definitely not the job or place where I thought I would be, but I’m glad this opportunity presented itself to me and I’m enjoying the opportunities it’s presenting me, the lessons I’m learning and the people who are lighting my path.

 

 

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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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.