We did it—we crossed the Mediterranean! A week after leaving Malta, we have arrived in Gibraltar. This time our voyage, surprisingly, went according to plan. With a new captain in place, things were a little different on the boat. Not necessarily bad or good, just different. Jorge has a lot of experience so it’s been really cool to listen to his stories. In his mid-twenties, him and his best friend bought a boat together and set out to sail—neither of them had ever done anything like that before. While they originally were thinking about going around the world, they realized they didn’t have the finances for such a trip and instead crossed the Atlantic, sailed around the Caribbean and South America and returned to the port they originally left from in Portugal. While their adventure lasted months, the memories are still vivid—he’s still working on a book about the trip. The best part (maybe most surprising part, of his trip?), the two friends came back with their friendship intact, actually even better, than when they left. Being on a boat is tough: you’re in an enclosed space, you’re relying on other people for your own safety and there’s no escape. The people you are with significantly influences your experience, that’s true no matter what the scenario is.
Saying farewell to Chad was tougher than I thought it would be, but knowing that he’ll be coming to Portland in August for a visit made it a little easier. Chad, in a way, is the catalyst to my entire adventure and leap of faith. Sure, I might have decided it was time to take a leap of faith on my own, but with Chad’s invitation to join them on this sailing trip and his unwavering support gave me the boost that I needed to make the decision there and then. Especially since he was offering me an adventure to jump straight into. Before I left, a coworker of mine was getting ready to go out on sabbatical. After working at Intel for 7 years, US employees are eligible for an 8-week sabbatical to be used within 3 years. That’s 8 weeks of paid time off to do whatever your heart pleases. Someone had shared this advice with us: plan a trip to start your sabbatical off. That way, you’re immediately disconnected and aren’t able to check your email, which apparently is something that everyone struggles with when they’re supposed to be offline. By having this sailing trip, it was my way of forcing myself off the grid and jumping into something new and exciting, headfirst. Captain Chad, what a guy.
As we sailed out of the Malta marina, we were greeted with some incredible scenery to start our sail—and we were actually sailing, no motor, for a bit. We passed by islands with quaint villages dotting their hilltops and other islands with 100 ft cliffs looming about. My favorite view was the gennaker, a lightweight sail that you use when you have light wind—ours is hot pink, enough said? While the sail was a beauty, it didn’t take long for things to go wrong for us. We ran into some issues with the wind and lines when we tried to take the sail down at sunset. At one point, the sail ended up in the water, threatening to tangle up in the propeller, but fortunately, we didn’t get to a worse case scenario and were able to rescue the sail, intact, and escaped the situation with some racing hearts, bloody knuckles and rope burn. We definitely learned some lessons that day.
The rest of the sail/motorsailing was fairly uneventful. Jorge and Tyler switched over to a 4-hour watch schedule, which apparently worked out much better than a 3-hour watch schedule—that extra hour does wonders. I got Tyler into The Wire (though it pains me that he started watching in Season 4—he really needs to watch the whole show), which we ended up finishing two days ago. (Wire friends, let’s discuss.) I’m late to the party, but I also read what’s become one of my favorite books, The Alchemist. It had been on my list of books to read for ages, but I’m glad I waited because the timing couldn’t have been better. Tyler and I have been reading different spiritual books on my Kindle, one by Deepak Chopra and one by the Dalai Lama, so we’ve found some of our conversations going back to the books and the lessons we were learning and the thoughts the books provoked. Kind of like our own little book club :-)
There were several more dolphin sightings during the sail and each time would leave me cheesing like it was my first. One morning I sat on the bow for almost an hour, just watching a duo of dolphins frolic to and fro. It was amazing. Tyler and his sharp eye caught sight of a whale off the stern one day, which had Jorge make a mad dash for the cockpit. Apparently whales are rare in the Med so this was a sighting worth getting excited over. Another evening, Jorge knocked on the window to tell us about a sea turtle nearby but by the time I made it outside, it was gone. At least someone on the boat saw it though!
I feel like things are different now then they were when I arrived in Israel for this trip and even from when we first set sail from Haifa 2.5 weeks ago. I feel a sense of calmness, I feel rested and I feel ready to embrace whatever life has in store for me. Gibraltar is the last major port before the Atlantic crossing and I told myself that I would re-evaluate when we got here to see if crossing the Atlantic is still what I want to do. We have two new crewmembers coming aboard as Tyler will not be continuing and my own presence wasn’t guaranteed. We’ll see what happens next, in the mean time, I’m enjoying the journey and the present.