It’s been a great chance for me to sail with my friends whom I had sailed alongside for some month before, but now on their boat Tore a (Beneteau Oceanis 43). First I joined them across the Bay of Biscay from Falmouth to A Coruna as my little Fantasia been sitting on the hard in Plymouth waiting to be fixed and waiting for the new Genua to be made. That crossing of the Bay of Biscay was maybe a classic for a crew of “charter boat” sailors as we were so insecure of the weather that we picked a weather window with nearly no wind. Therefore we motored most of the time of the three days, I did not like it! But the calm sea gave us the confidence to stop and go for a swim mid-way in some 4000m deep water as the skipper said after a dive “it’s SO blue” this became our running joke. How is the water SO blue : ) I had been impressed by the shipping line as there wore so many big vessels lined up! Getting closer to A Coruna we finally got a steady breeze and sailed the last miles while enjoying the approaching view to the shore. A Coruna has been a nice city to visit after could England we finally felt to be in the South : )) I only enjoyed this for a couple of days before going back to my boat in Plymouth and facing my fix-up problems there.
Some months later they asked me if I would like to join them on their Atlantic crossing. I decided to leave my little Fantasia in Cork, as there seemed to be no good weather window coming up, not knowing I would not see her again. Or more honestly as I had been too scared to sail again after the rudder broke. I needed a holiday after all that fixing. And joined Tore in Tenerife after having sailed with Juniper from Plymouth to Cascais. We took one week to stock up the boat with food and do final preparations. In hindsight, I could have felt disturbed at the particular way and precociousness but I had been a little nervous and uncertain too. We left with a good breeze to the Cope Verdie’s it hat been a fast sail mostly downwind at times more than 35kn and big seas. For a couple of days, the autopilot did not coupe with the big seas, while it had been my turn on the helm another big sea lifted us, and we zoomed down the hill, accelerating to 15kn, while my heart started to beat in emergency mode. The sound, the forces were powerful, I was scared that the wave would push our aft sideways and we would roll… But we been luck all of us managed there turn of helming. Arriving at the Cope Verdie’s was great, it was different, not Europe, not the first world. We were in Africa : ) I really enjoyed it. Especially when meeting the people as fellow humans communicating smiling with lone fisherman on the beach about his elegant way of catching a few fish – no words were needed as neither of us spoke a language the other understood but some gesturing gave both of us a friendly smile. I enjoyed wandering and exploring the islands but did not always want to go alone but the other crew especially the skipper and partner were reluctant to leave their boat alone. They were worried or needed to make something more perfect. This being worried and not emerging into their new surrounding and not enjoying disturbed me evermore. Words started to get fewer especially with the skipper who already did not talk much and with his partner, I could still chat but underling was where many disagreements, on how to do shift, how often to clean (nearly every day everything), and more little things that mattered more while the time slowed during the 15day crossing. Their friend the other crew also made me feel uncomfortable and miss the opportunity to walk away.
I had been so happy to leave the boat as early as I could in Barbados as the dense time just got too much for me! But this too has been a lesson to learn, that even with friends whom you believe to know for some month it can get too much and it’s very different to sail alongside each other than, be a crew for another skipper. But besides the social drama, we managed the very well from Mindelo to Barbados, like hopping on a train, only spilling more drinks and food due to some unexpected wave.
Strangely they later asked me if I would join them across the pacific. Maybe it was not as bad for them. But I declined for other reasons and they could not go due to Covid. And got stuck in Panama for 6months.
And if I had to choose I don’t like these big charter boats and would rather go for something small. I liked my 27ftermuch better than their 43fter, they may be soled as desirable in yachting world but for living and sailing on them not my set of values.
** Update I have just been visiting them and it felt very nice and good to see them again : )