When I started out this blog at the beginning of this year, I could never have imagined I would be sailing 1000 nautical miles across the Atlantic, spending 8 days non stop sailing and living aboard a classic yacht.
You work in shift patterns of 3 hours on and 6 hours off, 24 hours a day, for as many days as it takes to deliver the yacht from A to B. You quickly get into a rhythm of rest and work, but quite frankly, I don’t what to make of it, is it fun ?, is it relaxing ?, is it rewarding….?…it is definitely tiring , you don’t shower for the entire duration and for the first 24 hours in the ocean swell, I have never felt so ill with sea sickness. It is also quite daunting, you soon appreciate the vastness of the ocean and have to show it total respect, not seeing land or another ship for an entire day is a common occurrence. You are away from your family, there is no contact, no mobile or data signal, satellite comms are for emergencies only, not to check the latest post on Facebook or Instagram.., apart from reading and sleeping there is little to do on an ocean crossing. If the sea won’t kill you then a likelihood of dying from boredom might.
So what are the positives ?, you really are living life, you are outside in the elements with nature seeing things and experiencing things that most don’t…sunsets, sunrises, marine life, the solitude, time to think, reflect and read. A sense of adventure & achievement, that you have taken something (a boat) and crossed an ocean from one place to another, overcome fears ( I can tell you there is nothing more scary than going up to the mast mid Atlantic when there is strong wind in the middle of night, safety tethers or not, your mind tells you what the f@@k are you doing.?!.) The craft of safely using whatever weather has come your way to your advantage. I have complete respect for the ocean sailors, it goes way beyond just sailing, going deep into the mind of both human physical and mental strengths.
Some might like the solitude and remoteness, but is it for me full time….?, I miss my wife, kids and dog terribly, the warmth of home, the ease of just walking to the toilet and not having to balance against the wall to aim straight and stand in a puddle of p*** from previous shooters. The option of a shower when I want, lying in a comfy bed and sleeping for longer than 3 hours, the daily interaction with other humans, the freedom to go for a walk or run when you want, ocean sailing restricts all of this…
I should use this moment to say a big thank you to Mrs West, who has been incredibly supportive and immensely strong whilst I have been away on my travels, I don’t say it enough but I have huge amount of respect for her and on reflection I am a very lucky boy that she has supported me whilst I have pursed these sailing dreams.
I feel I am now at a big cross road though……., do I settle down into a work routine again, reacquaint myself with the family over the remaining summer, autumn and winter time, watch them grow up into larger sulky teenagers, walk Baloo in the autumn leaves and spend quality time with my wife, or keep the dream alive and seek alternative sailing employment, the lure of the sun and warmth of the Mediterranean is so tempting, it will provide valuable commercial sailing experience in a fun and relaxed environment but it comes at a cost of distance from the family and brings no financial reward ?!
I get told daily that it was better when I wasn’t at home and everyone was happier, but is that really the case ?, no one to mow the lawn, no one to drive around in circles to various kids activities, no one to walk Baloo late at night, no one to fix and glue things and no one to give a b****ling out when the towels are left on the shower room floor again !
When I started out this journey, I knew it would be hard and one step at a time but finding the right balance is far trickier than I ever imagined…..
Time to consider the next step carefully !
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