We left Cascais, Portugal at 10:30 am Monday (12/5/16) and it is now 10:00 the next day Tuesday. We are heading to the Canary Islands and expect to be there Thursday night (12/8/16). So far on this leg of the trip, on the water, the weather has been good. The chop is 2 to 3 ft. but the swells are good size and they are diminishing. This really is not as bad as we expected. The weather was much worse 18 hours prior to our departure; there were gigantic waves crashing over the wall protecting the marina harbor. So, the weather reduced very quickly. I am VERY happy about that. I did not want to be bounced around like a pinball and possibly damage the boat. As you can imagine, it is better to have a solid breeze and low waves.
Last night, while we were far away from all the lights of land, I believe I saw Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and possibly Neptune. I used an app on my iPad called SkyView to help me locate the sky spot I was viewing. Then with binoculars I was able to pinpoint the planets. I saw several shooting stars, the Milky Way and a very nice moon set into the water; deep orange as it was setting. It was very nice. I also believe I saw another galaxy. Just as you see pictures of galaxies and what they look like, as I was scanning with the binoculars I saw what looked like another galaxy in the sky. My college astronomy class has really paid off on this seafaring trip. That was a very nice bonus!
It is a beautiful sunny morning right now but there are menacing clouds on the horizon. Maybe, if I talk nice to them, they will leave us alone; worth a try. Now it is time to do the house, I mean, boat chores: the laundry awaits and we hang it up all around the outside of the boat. Nobody will care that we are literally a sailing laundry mat- no one around to see us. If it rains that is just an extra rinse cycle. Then dinner preparations; a typical crew dinner on the boat consists of potatoes with onions, zucchini and tomatoes. Wednesday am (12/7/16), my regularly scheduled 8-12 watch was reasonably calm and quite. Not another boat all morning. I played the music up to the helm station and enjoyed the slightly cool sail. It was very relaxing and pleasant. With boating there is a lot of "work"; so, it can be easy to lose sight of the fun part. I made sure to embrace this AM time as it is what I came to enjoy.
This afternoon I made lunch for all of us of a pasta, tomato, and onion and pesto salad. It was good. I will be honest, I have always considered myself a good cook; however, the captain shudders when I cook as he hates my food. Captain Andy thinks he is a gourmet cook. He is better than me, I will admit. He did like this meal but would never admit it; instead he gave me corrections on how to make it better. He was right but it still was not too bad. Come on Capt. Throw a crew member a little rope.
Tonight, Wednesday 912/7/16), Cristina made curry chicken and it was fabulous. She is a good cook which is a nice bonus to her competent sailing ability. She is a mountain guide in the mountains of France and does sailing periodically to have a change of pace. She is tough in a good way!
So the real questions: mentally how is it to be on the boat so long? First, being away from my family is tough. In the over 30 years my wife and I have been married, we have never been apart for more than four days at a stretch. So you can see we are like glue together. So that is tough. The company of the other two crew is more of a working/ business relationship and not a friendship. They are friendly and nice but are very different culturally. That does not fully feed the social need. Known family and friends would eliminate this emptiness all together.
The other question to address is: Do I still like sailing? The short answer is absolutely yes! But it is not always "smooth" sailing. No one likes being seasick; nor do I. Until you get your sea legs if it is rough; it is an endurance game. Not fun. There are often things to fix/ tweak/ or repair. If they do not cost a bunch of money or are reasonably easy to handle then that is just fine. You always have a concern about possible big problems that could occur. This is to be expected as normal as boats have something breaking all the time. On that count we are good, so far. Right now the Genoa sail is up, a mild breeze, sun and we are moving along nicely in mild sea conditions. That is what you shoot for and makes it all so worthwhile. These pleasant conditions will not always happen as you may have rain or stronger seas. The key in the future is to be patient and monitor the weather and I must be willing to sit tight until it calms down or is acceptable weather and sea conditions to cast off. I am learning that you cannot push it too hard.
As far as being bored, there is some of that. Books, writing/ journaling, or having my wife along for the voyage, will help with that. It is an attitude change. It is very difficult for me to let go of the quick pace of the real life that I have lived for over 35 years. My mind is always on the office or home. It is a constant struggle to be in this moment. That will never change for me or it has not changed thus far on this voyage.
I plan and hope to get another blog out after the Canary Islands. I never know what the communication availability will be at the next port.
Until then, I hope all who are following my adventure are well, safe and making their holiday preparations. A special, “Thank you”, to all of you who are and who have shared that you are praying for my safe travels.