Today is my 61st day away from home and my 48th day at sea. I am on this ocean voyage as a guest crew member purely for the experience and the adventure of sailing across the Atlantic.
This long-haul sailing has certainly been a completely different experience for me and one that takes a bit of time to get used to. Life at sea involves the daily motion of the boat and the routine of watch rota duties, including getting up in the middle of the night. Night watches have been really amazing especially when seeing a clear night sky full of very bright stars and planets. One night even the waves were as bright as the stars when they reflected bioluminescence.
On a 70-foot yacht it can feel a bit confined for space on a daily basis with 9 others, especially when I want to get into the galley for a cup of tea. On the question of tea I have had to give up my long-cherished English breakfast brew as the water onboard is too salty for me. Instead Ive had to resort to drinking Red Bush tea with milk. Disgusting, I know.
The comfort aspect of the boat for me is a bit lacking especially on the soft-seating front. I often have to sneak a pillow up into the cockpit! The sleeping accommodation is good in my cabin so I have had no problem falling to sleep with the lull and motion of the boat, even when there is a strong heel. However, a regular sleep pattern has gone out of the port-hole with the disturbed nights so cat naps during the day are becoming a bit of a daily feature in my routine.
The vegetarian food cooked by everyone each evening has been very imaginative and tasty. This has impressed me as normally at home I am not a vegetarian so my own cooking may change on my return to the UK.
I have learnt more about the mechanics and different aspects of sailing which on this particular boat I think are quite complicated compared to smaller yachts. There seems to be so many more ropes and winches and of course all the electrical gadgetry and plumbing. It is a bit mind boggling but I am getting my head round it all. At home I sail in a boat called Naomi which is far less complicated!
We have had numerous whale and dolphin sightings which has been very exciting. Everyone has taken heaps of photos and films to record these sightings. The friendly acrobatic dolphins have been my favourite.
My regular past-time at home is swimming so when we have had an opportunity to stop the boat, on a few occasions, this has been amazing. The water has been so warm, particularly in the southern hemisphere where it is bright blue and incredibly deep. This is completely different to swimming in the cold, green-grey North Sea!
On the few occasions we have seen land from the boat it has been really exciting. Our first land sighting was Salvador in Brazil which had a sky-scraper sky-line (not dissimilar to Ramsgate!), where we stopped for a week. Our second land sighting was the dry and arid, mountainous landscape of one of the Cape Verde Islands, where we stopped off for one night. Our third land sighting was the green, sub-tropical, volcanic Islands of the Azores, where we stopped off for two days. It was great to get my feet back on terra firma and enjoy the sights of all that these places had to offer. A swim in every port was had as well as plenty of meals sampling the local cuisine.
In Salvador we visited the old town that was very colourful but also a bit dodgy so we had to be careful we werent going to get robbed; in Cape Verde we danced the night away and even attempted some break-dancing with one of the locals; in the Azores we visited the famous lighthouse, that is now a museum, depicting the events of 1956/58 when a volcano erupted right next to it. It survived under a mountain of volcanic ash. We also managed to walk the Island from coast to coast within the two-day visit, about 50 km in total; the scenery was quite spectacular from the top of the mountains.
We shall probably reach our final port in Portugal in 4 days. Although It will be great to have arrived at our final destination, with all my great memories and experiences I will be sad to say farewell to all my fellow crew members whom I have shared this adventure. I will always have very fond memories of this long ocean voyage though it has made me realise that I prefer to do coastal sailing where my feet will touch land nearly every day and I can swim and drink normal tea as much as I like!