I am completely in my element and completely in awe of the perfection I find myself in.
I came out to race across the Atlantic feeling strongly pulled towards this challenge… but having never done it before I didn’t know for certain how this experience would be. I feel so relaxed and at peace out here on this blue planet.
Our daily routines remain the same and yet every day feels completely different. Our days and nights are taken up with our watch duties, plotting, studying weather and discussing our sail plan for the day, carrying out sail changes and manoeuvres, navigation, cooking, cleaning and finding snatches of sleep when we can. At moments our schedule could feel punishing and that one is constantly sleep deprived as the days and nights blur completely into one another through the rhythm of our watches. Even though punishing at moments, I feel very alive and at home in the rhythm of these days.
Being on a boat at sea I am more aware than ever that this is a pathway to more disciplines than I could ever master. Astronomy, oceanography, aerodynamics, physics, hydrodynamics, meteorology, weather, diesel mechanics, sail repair and common sense problem solving are all part of sailing along with a good deal of grit to put up with the discomfort and pushing through the fatigue.
This is the beginning of a love story… a falling for ocean sailing. I can’t quite remember the exact moment that I fell in love with the sea and boats. There may not have been just one moment but it was more like falling over and over again at different times and in different places.
My dad was in the navy and at 10 years old I was ready to sign up for the navy too. I could picture myself on deck saluting to the Captain or Admiral of the Fleet. Somehow I was gently discouraged and the vision of myself in a navy uniform slipped from focus. I got into horses or something and this captured my attention for a while.
Despite the diversion of horses, I have been around boats and drawn to water all of my life, however this feels different, more intense. Perhaps I am more aware now that life is short and time is finite. We should probably all be doing the things that make us feel fully alive. This journey has solidified what I hope will be a life long love of journeying on the ocean. Sailing the ocean….it’s all about the wind and the sails for me.
I spend a lot of time thinking about the perfect boat to do this and my idea of the perfect boat has been evolving. I used to think classic blue water boat, full keel, heavy displacement, safe and steady, lots of beautiful wood and now that all feels potentially like a wallowing pig. I’m thinking something faster. Something lighter, something more striped down to only what is essential. Something that blows past the competition when they are doing 9 knots! In the last year I have had the immense pleasure of sailing a Pogo 30. The Pogo is blue water capable, planes at 11 knots and is at the other end of the spectrum from my original thinking. After an around Keats Island race on the Pogo I couldn’t stop thinking about the way the transom moves through the water and then separates from the surface and starts to plane. Everything goes quiet and the boat feels perfectly balanced, it’s an incredible feeling. I made a video that day of the wake we left behind us and it looks like we were in a power boat.
We are all on deck talking about boats and I ask my crew mates if they think I have an unhealthy obsession with the Pogo and they all agree that I probably do. We laugh as they can each totally relate as everyone has a story about a boat that they have lots their hearts and minds to.
Another day begins its fade into night and we watch the sun set, a big orange ball dipping below the waves and then into the sea. The moon rises slowly into the darkening sky as we continue our journey west.
It’s a beautiful blue planet out here my friends.