Today it is a year since we first cast off the lines and sailed away from the pontoon in West Scotland. Back then Neill had two weeks experience of skippering his own boat and Heidi had spent one day sailing on a lake. Stuart MacDonald – just back from sailing around the world – told us that if we avoided Black Rock on the way out, the rest would be easy.
We have now avoided many Black Rocks – every port or channel seems to have one. We have sailed to 58° North to visit the standing stones of Callanish and to Prickly Bay in Grenada at 12°N. We have visited about twelve countries and about forty islands, crossed five time zones and sailed about eight thousand miles. The numbers don’t really matter. The experiences are what are important.
Everywhere we go there are friendly, helpful, interesting and sometimes mildly eccentric people to meet and enjoy life with. It really doesn’t matter if we meet “bushmen” in the rain forest or doctors at the yacht club – we enjoy everyone. Luckily English is the Lingua Franca of the sailing world so we get by. Heidi is now fluent in English conversation so we are learning Spanish ready for Panama.
It is amazing how busy we are. You would think that gently sailing round the world with a few bike trips shouldn’t be too much work. However only last week Neill commented that he doesn’t have time to blog because he is too busy living. Heidi, quite rightly, pointed out that the other way round would be much worse. When you collect all your supplies and water with a dinghy, cook everything yourself, generate your own electricity and use the wind to move, boredom is not an option. And there are the non stop repairs and improvements that also keep us occupied.
Our living space is about twenty square meters and from England to the Canary Islands there were three of us on board. Amazingly it is space enough and we even have empty lockers. The view through the windows changes permanently and since the Caribbean (and our new swimming masks) we have had a huge warm salt water world to play in – complete with coral reefs and interesting fish.
So after one year “at sea” we finally feel like sailors and both know far more about sailing than we did then. We even sound like sailors with our lines, tacks, genoa, pushpit and who knows what else. And we now know the most important rules:
- make a plan but don’t expect it to happen as you plan. It will probably turn out better.
- Whatever happens, enjoy it