I am approaching my 8000th nautical mile and I am finally beginning to feel a little more relaxed on the boat. (Some of the time!)
Recently, we met some new friends, Bridget and Steve on Waxwing of Dartmouth, and inevitably the talk turned to traumatic times we have had to suffer. It was then that Steve posed a taxing question.
‘Given the stresses and traumas experienced when sailing in the Mediterranean, what is it that we enjoy and what makes us want to continue with this adventure?’ he asked.
Hmmmm, I had to confess that I do sometimes wonder.
First and foremost, we have enjoyed learning massive amount along the way.
We have learnt:
- To shut the seacocks in the bathrooms if we are sailing on a close haul or beam reach. (Otherwise the water siphons up and floods the bathroom!)
- That the wind is either blowing too hard, not at all or on the nose!
- To wear shoes on board so that we don’t stub our toes.
- To keep everything stowed properly whatever the weather.
- To invest in head phones so we can communicate without yelling at each other, especially in stressful situations.
- To put up the sun awning up when anchored or moored to try to keep cool.
- To tie the anchor firmly to the bow when not in use.
- To remember that the rising crescent moon looks very like a fast approaching sailing vessel.
- To continue to be stunned by the awe-inspiring sight of the star filled sky.
- To keep checking the weather forecasts.
- To practise anchoring technique.
- To investigate strange noises immediately To check the engine daily according to the RYA ‘wobble’ mnemonic.
- To fill up with water, gas and diesel whenever possible.
- To use technology, (AIS – Automatic Identification of Ships, Radar or electronic charts) as an aid to navigation and sailing, but not the be all and end all!
- To trust our instincts.
- That sighting dolphins, turtles and starfish always lifts our mood.
Since there is mostly just the two of us; and not to get schmaltzy; we have had to rely on each other when things get tough. We have had to ‘man-up’ on occasions and are improving at staying calm under pressure. We have had to think in different ways to solve numerous boat problems.
Sometimes it is a simple fix, sometimes it is much more involved. (As in; the Starboard shroud started to twist and break the other day so I had to carry 19.7kg of new ones back to the boat. ) We have had to use our initiative and think quickly or change plans rapidly to fit a new situation and make things safer. For the most part, we have succeeded and that, in itself, brings a certain satisfaction.
It’s true, that you really don’t know what the day is going to throw at you when you wake up (Thanks are due to Sue and Malcolm on Sukama for their insight, which I think is bob on. ) and we are better at reacting and adapting our plans accordingly. We have experienced violent peaks and troughs of adrenaline during the course of our travels which is oddly addictive. Even if the peaks do make me awfully thirsty!
I am pleased to have had time to read, to practise my Italian learning, and to play endless games of calming Scrabble.
I have been gratified to notice that people are making increasing efforts to limit plastic pollution in the seas (although still more can be done everywhere to reduce the amount of single use plastic being produced, used, bought and, ultimately, making its way to the sea).
We have been lucky enough to meet some really interesting and fun people. The other day we were with a group of Greek, French, Brit and Lebanese nationals which was really special.
We appreciate being part of a community of wonderful fellow sailors and live-a-boards who are always happy to share their spare parts, their experience, their assistance and useful advice on all sorts of boaty things.
We have met friendly, kind and accommodating local people almost everywhere. We have eaten some amazing food and cheeses from local producers. We have drunk some world-class wines, some mediocre wines and, occasionally, the truly awful – but it has all been fun!
We have visited some interesting places and seen lots of piles of old stones and enough amphora to sink a ship!
We have had great times making memories with new friends, visiting old friends and faaaaamily.
All of these factors combined have helped to make life enjoyable and to make the stressful times worth coping with.