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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

Why I love the sea

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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….

The French men of St Martin

IMG_8335You know there has to be something unique about an island which is governed by two different countries, yet has no border control crossing over the bridge between the two “countries. Fact: If for immigration purposes you can’t take the ferry into the Dutch side of St Maarten, just take the ferry to the French side of St Martin (notice they even have different spellings for the same island!). Then you just drive over to the Dutch side and all is cool. Huh?!?!? There are two different police states. If you do something bad in the French side and make it to the Dutch side, the French police can’t pursue you. This is a very small island by the way, it’s not like England! It takes about half hour (with no traffic) to drive from one side to the other. The natives have either a Dutch or French passport depending on which side they were born on. It’s definitely a special island.

 

My crazy experiences of this island really started on the plane from Paris to St Maarten. I sat next to a very attractive sailor who was born in France, but spent much of his youth in St Maarten. He told me it’s a crazy place where people lose themselves. I didn’t think much of it. He also told me not to trust anyone, which I thought was strange, but heeded the warning (thank goodness! It saved me a lot of drama!). We exchanged details as he said he had family and friends there who could help me if the motor yacht experience didn’t work out (he clearly knew it wouldn’t!).

 

Then I get in the car with the Captain and make a comment about how beautiful the island is. He said, “Yes, but it has a strange energy and people end up going crazy here.” Now two people said that, but obviously as I’m a strong yogi warrior, this energy wouldn’t touch me… Well, if you follow my blog, you know it did touch me. I left not feeling so great about myself or the island, but as I’ve now had a week of the cleansing sea to clear my head, I’ve been reflecting on the great experiences I had there.

 

Let’s start with the men, actually that’s all I will talk about. The French men to be exact. Although I resided in a country which was only an hour train ride away from France, I never really had much dealings with French people. I just heard the stereotypical bad things that the English have about them. Well, it turns out that I’m some kind of love goddess for French men in St Martin. The first time it happened, I was at a full moon party on the beach. It was a gorgeous night. I could see the colours of the ocean even though the moon was the only thing lighting up the sea. It was beautiful. I had not long arrived and had a beautiful, positive and light energy about me. I got talking to three French men. One who listened to me for about three minutes before he started to talk about how sweet my lips were. All night he kept going on about just wanting a peck from my “sweet sugar lips.” The other two guys weren’t talking about kissing me, but they were totally engrossed in conversation with me. In a way that most men I’ve just met haven’t ever been. This too made me feel like a love goddess.

 

Then we went on charter for what seemed like eight years and when we got back, I got in touch with one of the guys to see if we could hang out. I was sick of the crew and needed some new company. He came and picked me up and we went to a bar of his friend’s on the French side. We continued the night with one of his friends and went on to have the most crazy night I’ve ever had in my life. It was a great night, not material for my parents to read so I will stop there.  However, what I will say is that I was so attracted to their utmost respect and interest for me. They were the biggest gentlemen I have ever met in my life. Not once did they try to make a move on me (can’t say I was so innocent!). The only time one of them touched me was when a crazy drunk guy stalked me into the bathroom and after the barman rescued me, I hurried back to the bar and explained the situation to them. One of them put his arm around me and as the stalker guy came back to talk to me again, he gave me a look as if to say, “Oh, ok. I understand,” and left. As soon as the drunk guy left, he took his arm off my waist and asked if I was ok. We talked about interesting things. Different cultures, travelling, family, life and random things. It was so refreshing after the typical motor yacht conversations which were about sex, women, sex, women, sex, sex, sex and more sex. I quickly tired of it.

 

The next weekend was another full moon party and the guys asked if I wanted to go. Moon and beach?!? Of course! They picked me up and we had some errands to run and people to pick up before going to the party. By the time we made it to the beach, I realised it was me and five French guys. We met up with five more guys at the beach. Again, it turned out to be quite a surreal night. The guys I came with left for a bit and I stayed with one of their friends. He too left me to talk to someone and so I made my own friends. Well, friends or admirers, I’m not sure! It was crazy. I would be standing talking to someone and then one or two other people would come up and tell me how beautiful I was. Then these strangers would start talking to each other about how beautiful I was. At one point they said that I was “physically smart.” I laughed and said, “What does that mean??” They told me it meant that I had a perfectly formed beautiful body. I have sufficient self-confidence, but who isn’t going to love that?!?! Then one of my friends came back and agreed with them all before leaving again. At one point I had two French men on their knees holding each of my hands in theirs begging for a kiss. Just a kiss!! Then three others came up behind them and said they wanted a kiss too. I’m sure everyone was on ecstasy, but this was totally surreal! I of course obliged the cute ones (all of them) and was again showered with compliments. But beautiful respectful compliments, not crude horrible ones that I have sadly grown accustomed to. Maybe it’s the French culture that breeds respect for women, I’m not sure. I was just happy to have it!

 

I spent the rest of the night going up to my favourite ones and kissing them before running off to the next one. Hey, we only live once and numerous women in their 50’s have told me I have to live up my beauty while I can. I respect and listen to my elders 😉

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After that night, I chose to “settle” with one. He was the friend of the original friend I made. He was very sweet sending me text messages throughout the day asking how I was, so he easily won me over. He invited me over for dinner one night and I was hooked.  I spent the majority of my last three weeks with him. He would rescue me from the marina in his car. I would babble about how annoying that day was and as soon as we got out of his car, everything was ok again. He made me dinners and brought me tea and biscuits when I was busy on my computer applying for new jobs. He didn’t complain when I took up his whole bed after spending a month sleeping in a coffin bed.  We made each other laugh like crazy. He listened to me babble about my theories on life. On my day off, he took me around the island and showed me all the local spots. He was actually quite shy so I enjoyed learning a new little piece about him every day that we spent together. He was my saviour on that island. It was a very sad goodbye, but I’ve said hundreds of them in my day and no doubt will say a hundred more.

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I also became friends with the French sailor on the dock next to us. He was really nice too and took me out for some fancy dinners. He invited me back to his boat to view the stars from his boom one night, but I felt a little disloyal saying yes, so I politely declined. The next day he was walking around with his shirt off and I started to regret that no… Don’t worry I’m on the way to the Med, he will be there too, along with a million other hot sailors!

 

The point is, I did lose myself there and was one of the victims that went a little crazy. However, I had some fun and beautiful experiences. I met many more beautiful people then the ones I described above who also showed me not only the beauty of the island, but of human nature. I became friends with the security guard as I always left the boat early to wait for my escape to pick me up. We would chat about life and he was sad when I told him I was leaving. I gave him a hug and we wished each other the best. He also treated me with respect and kept me safe from some of the not so respectful habitants of the island while I was waiting.

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In Latin America, I was a “Mamacita!” who had various offers of sexual escapades, but always with a sexual lust that made me feel a bit dirty. I didn’t like the attention I received. I used to hate going out without Captain Cool for that reason. However, in St Martin it was different. I received the same amount of attention, but I felt for the first time in my life, very feminine and beautiful for it. I felt like a goddess of love – not sex, which is actually a pretty amazing feeling. Whatever is happening in that culture needs to be spread around the world so more women can experience it!   

The man on the plane

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Have you ever seen that movie where girl sit nexts to guy on a plane and they start talking and live happily ever after? Well, my life is a movie. The happily ever after hasn’t happened, nor do I think it will, but I do have my own romantic plane story. It happened on my way from London to St Maarten and was on the Paris to St Maarten lag.

 

I walked up to aisle 39 and was happy to see that the aisle seat next to me was empty. I used to pray that a hot guy would sit next to me so that we could fall in love and have babies, but I had long since give up that dream when no one interesting ever sat next to me on the hundreds of flights I’ve taken. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a guy place his bag on the seat next to me. I carried on being busy on a phone that was already off and he said, “Bonjour.” I had my initial knee jerk reaction of eye rolling and thinking, “Oh god, here, we go. Just don’t talk to me.”  Then I looked at him and he smiled a really kind and big smile and some butterflies appeared in my stomach as I flashed my pearly whites back at him and said, “Bonjour.” I sussed him out from the corner of my eye. After all, I was sat in sailor class, so he could be a sailor. I looked at his bag, he was definitely an outdoors man, but his clothes didn’t really say sailor. However, his longish wild hair and strong hands suggested maybe he was. I wasn’t sure what language he spoke. I couldn’t see the book he had tucked in the seat pocket, so I had a little look over his shoulder while he sent some text messages. Ah, Spanish!! Perfect!

 

Then I saw that he was writing to a woman and he was sorry he didn’t get a chance to call her before we left, but he loved her. Damn, always the way. So I put my head back and closed my eyes hoping to sleep the whole flight since I had such an early start to get to the airport.

 

After a little sleep, I opened my eyes and after 10 minutes he asked me in English why I was going to St Maarten. I told him I had just gotten my first job in the yachting industry on a motor yacht, although sailboats were really my thing.  He told me that he was going to race on a sailboat. I sighed out of jealousy and asked him about his job.  He has my ideal life. He recently bought his own sailboat and does delivery and race crew work for money. PERFECT!!!! He said he could help me find work if it didn’t work out with the motor yacht. It’s all about connections. I started thinking maybe it wasn’t so bad if I was a bit more outgoing, even on a plane.

 

I was actually really sleepy so after a chat, I got comfortable. Cliche, but true, our arms were touching on the armrest between us. I felt a warm electric shock running through my body and thought, “Oh Wow! It’s been a long time since I’ve felt this kind of energy connection with anyone.” I slept off and on, he always got me a drink or held my food tray for me if I was sleeping or in the bathroom. One time I woke up and he was sleeping so I positioned myself to be a little more cosy to him.  I could feel the warmth of his positive energy seering into my body as our lower backs and arms touched. It felt like a drug and I couldn’t get enough. In a sleepy state, I could feel him move and snuggle closer into me. I wanted to turn around and snuggle into his chest, but I restrained myself.

 

I could go on and on about the little romantic moments we shared in that oh so short 8 hour flight, but I’m sure some of you are already about to be sick, so I will just share one more. He was born in France, but spent a lot of time in St Martin so he knew the area very well. He was pointing out to me the islands as we passed them, which involved him leaning over me to point out the window. His face was so close, I could feel the warmth of his breath. I stopped listening to what he was saying because I was just willing him to turn his head and start kissing me. My heart was racing and I was so sad the flight was about to be over.

 

After we got off the plane, we ran ahead of everyone as he told me the immigration line queues up quickly and can take hours. We exchanged numbers as we waited for our luggage. I didn’t get any signal on my phone, so he waited outside with me to make sure I was ok. I realised I knew the name of the boat, but not the marina where I was staying. After a slight panic, I saw who I thought was the Captain and waved at him. I gave the plane man a big hug and thanked him for everything. As I ran off into the warm suffocating heat of the Caribbean he shouted, “I’ll message you!” I smiled and waved thinking, “Yeah right, that will never happen.”

 

I went on the boat, met everyone and settled in. I turned on wifi and received this message, “Thanks so much for the nice chat on the plane. I really wanted to kiss you.” I smiled a huge smile and squealed. It was a two way thing after all!!

 

As I said in the beginning, who knows if I will ever see him again (although we’ve had occasional contact in the last two months and he’s sailing his boat to Palma, where I am, at the moment…) or how the story will end. If nothing else, I take it as a beautiful message from the universe to remind me to always enjoy the moment and look forward. At that time, I had been pining for Captain Cool, thinking how nice it would be if I was flying to a job with him instead of with some strangers I had only spoken to for 15 minutes on the phone.  After I met the man on the plane and felt the spark, I was comforted that everything will be ok. There is no reason to feel sad that the chapter with CC has ended, but that I should be grateful the chapter existed. I learned how to sail, I learned so much about the sea and I learned how to love and live on a boat. These are all important lessons I will use in the future. Why be sad about them? The memories will not leave me and will always give me a smile. Whether it’s with the man on the plane, a different sailor or alone, the best way to live life is to keep walking with a smile and open eyes. I needed that reminder and for that, I’m grateful for that gift I received from the man on the plane.   

 

 

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.