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Sailing is Romantic

11:54 17th October 2008 by Oceangybe
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Words by: Bryson

Lat: 13 degrees 19 minutes S
Long: 96 degrees 39 minutes E

Sailing around the world is highly romanticized.

One imagines beautiful empty beaches, friendly locals and incredibly delicious local delicacies. Travel from each idyllic location to idyllic location is possible by simply harnessing the fantastic trade winds, which blow consistently at 10 -15 knots year round. You can imagine yourself standing on the bow of the boat, winds filling the sails and the boat smoothly cutting through the deep blue, while dolphins jump in your bow wake. You are dressed in crisp white and blue sailor wear and you gaze out at the endless horizon, contemplating your next landfall. Dinner is served and you wander back to sit on the cushions, eating yellow fin tuna and drinking red wine.

Now jump to reality: The beaches, locals and food are all still at the end of each passage but these fantastic 10-15 knot trade winds do not exist. If they do in fact exist, Khulula has been incredibly successful at navigating away from such areas over the past 18 months. The winds generally blow between 20 – 25 knots, the deck is perpetually drenched by waves washing over the deck, and sails are not crisp white but rather an odd musty beige tone and filled with irregular sized patches to keep them together. Standing on the bow of the boat would instantaneous render you sprawling backwards, over all the equipment lashed to the deck, neck deep in water. Your nice crisp white clothing in fact is extremely rumpled, covered in stains and features a fantastic line of salt water crystals from your last encounter with the deep blue, as it splashed over the rails. You can barely remember the last time you sat down on a dry surface. Your coffee cup is so salt encrusted that every sip of coffee is precursored by the taste of sucking a salt cube. Most dinners are served in bowls to stop them sliding over the edge of the plate and are instantaneously devoured before they can be deposited in your lap by a timely wave. Using two pieces of cutlery at one time is an extremely risky maneuver as one hand is always required to either hold your bowl, the boat or some other continuously pitching piece of your daily world.

Of course, this pessimistic view of our daily live is generally timed with the beginning of any major ocean crossing, when your boat has not yet acclimatized to being back at sea and every task is a huge effort. At this stage, one is either sleeping or in the cockpit enjoying the fresh air. As meal times approach, someone inevitably is forced to volunteer to make food. This is also an act of great martyrdom, as most dinner meals start with great intentions but rapidly deteriorate in a mad rush to dish out the hastily cooked meal before sea sickness catches up with the chef, who subsequently will spend the next half hour taking in deep breaths of air and completely ignoring his creation.

However, as time passes, you become acclimatized to your rocking, rolling, never-stationary world. The thought of putting your drink on any flat surface is totally removed from your mind. The three-points-of-contact crab dance that is required to get anywhere becomes second nature and thought of strolling anywhere, using JUST your feet, seems completely foreign. Time passes, memories of the previous day seem to dissipate just as the day before that and the day before that… Water flows under the keel and slowly almost unperceivably one gets closer and closer to the destination.

Disclaimer: I thought it might be time we showed that our world is not all sunsets, fresh fish, good waves, generous locals and picture perfect beaches. Our life is full of dizzying highs and devastating lows. Then again, I could just be getting back in passage making mode. Day 3 and counting. Only 12 more to go…. And then another 11… ahhhh, the world is big place when you travel at jogging speed.

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