The moon above me is playing hide and seek with the opaque clouds. When it appears, the shadows like a sun in a grey planet glisten on the deck. I’ve got my harness on, tethered securely to a metal cleat, watching it rock back and forth as the wind and waves lift Shiloh and I over and over. It’s 3am and I’m on watch. Below, JW and Dev snore softly in a sea lulled coma.
The music serenades me. I sing along. Joy and sleepiness hold me firmly on the helm seat as my eyes scan robotically – from the wind instruments to the sails to the horizon and back. I’m alone in a way that makes me tingle. I believe it’s freedom or the illusion of it, tinged with fear and quite possibly some sea sickness. But I like it. I’m buzzing. My feet swing below me, my arms grasp the back of the chair. I feel the gusts lunging at the boat, pulling and tugging and moving us swiftly forward. Shiloh and I are sailing and it’s bliss.
We’ve been doing a lot of sailing lately. That’s good I suppose, after all we live on a sail boat!
In the past 3 weeks, we’ve bounced from Grenada to the Grenadines, past St Vincent and St Lucia, past Martinique and Dominica… We stopped at Guadeloupe and then popped in to Antigua. And now we sit in fancy cafés, downloading apps and catching up on the highly developed dual nationality island of St Maarten.
It’s a bit of a whirlwind, a blur if you will. I’ll be remembering an event or a hike or a restaurant and realise I have no idea which country we were in at the time.
This is how I like life. On the move. The move is what it’s all about. I’m learning more about sailing now, despite the fact that we have a junior captain on board. JW and son have been organising each sail, lifting anchor as a team, plotting the course, hoisting the mainsail and the jib and adjusting constantly. I just do my watches with pleasure and calm. When the swells are slight I make sandwiches for the crew. Just a few bruises on the hips from being jostled around in the galley. It’s all good.
I love the interludes. I love coffee in a café, happy hour at the yacht club, snorkeling with sting rays. But I have come to realise I like the sailing – and not just as a means to an end. I’m looking forward to the next passages as much as the next destinations.
Captain obvious might say “Well I hope so!”
But let me take a step back. Back to my christening on Shiloh. It was my first time ever on a boat of any description. I mean I’d never been on a hobie cat or even a boogie board. Nothing. Nada. No sailing courses, safety courses, lessons of any description. And my captain, though a natural, is NOT a teacher by nature...
The more cruisers I meet, the more I realise they have a lot in common. They’ve been sailing or around boats for a long time. Since childhood in many cases. They know they love life at sea. The knew when they bought a boat and sold everything and jumped aboard, what they were ‘in for’ more or less.
And then there’s me. At first everything terrified me. I had no benchmark, no yard stick for what was safe, what was dangerous. And the sea was just so big, so ominous. I remember in the first few months, sitting in the anchorage at Hog Island, Grenada, watching boats heading off for Trinidad and thinking how brave they were. A 12 to 18 hour sail lay ahead of them and I just couldn’t imagine doing it.
Now we’ve done many of those and many longer passages and all I can think is how I’d like a longer one. A chance to get out there and watch land disappear. Watch the sun set over charcoal foam lined waves.