I made it!! I was planning on arriving in the US Virgin islands, but instead here I am in Antigua.
It’s a long story, but pretty much the captain and I didn’t get a lone the greatest. I could tell from the outset that he was an odd guy. His social skills were off and he was terrible at communicating and leading in a way a captain of a ship should. That’s not the biggest deal to me. You can be a weirdo as long as you know how to sail a boat. And you know what? He could sail. So I made it safely across! Thanks be to God for that and that’s the real accomplishment in the first place.
However, I had a flight booked from the US Virgin islands and he decided to go Antigua instead, simply because he wanted to and didn’t feel like sailing to the US Virgin islands anymore. Before I booked the flight I consulted with him about different places that had cheap flights home, like Grenada, Barbados, and the US Virgin islands. He said any of them were fine. He didn’t seem super confident about it though and I tried to draw some commentary on it out of him, but nothing.. So now I have a flight booked that is essentially useless. Here in Antigua I looked for flights from this island to the US Virgin islands, but due to hurricane Irma a lot of the inter Carribean airlines are still out of commission. There were some $600 or so flights to get me to my flight on time, but they had crazy layovers in Newark or something like that. I’d be better off just buying a new flight home. I sent an email to American Airlines, with whom I have my original flight home, so we’ll see what they can do for me.
The journey itself started with me arriving in the Canary islands off the coast of Africa. It was a 45 minute flight from Western Sahara, which was necessary since I couldn’t find a boat to take me there from Africa directly. There I was lucky enough to get picked up by the captain who I made contact with throgh an online service called FindaCrew.net. Seemed like a good start and he was pretty nice at first, though I could tell he was already a little off. But hey as long as he can sail a boat! I definitely learned on this leg of my travels that I can be a little to naive sometimes. We got to his boat and spent the next couple of days doing repairs and getting things ready. Then, with two girls he had met before, we sailed from Gran Canaria (the main island) to La Gomera. In La Gomera we stocked up on produce and did the last preparation. Then we set off!!
The first three days I was sea sick. That wasn’t much fun. Also I quickly learned that he was a stickler about how much food I ate. He said he had more food on board when we bought the produce, but there wasn’t as much as I anticipated. Also back on land one of the earlier days of our relationship he told me he was “disappointed in me” when I ate the leftover food from the day before. He said, “I eat too” all upset. In honesty, that portion which was apparently egregious to him wasn’t even enough to fill me up. People who know me know I like to eat a lot, but I had toned it down on the road especially since food in Paris was mind bogglingly expensive.
Anyways, his typical meal was some rice and some cooked vegetables in small small portions. I tried to do my own cooking once during the first days of the trip and I cooked two eggs. He made some comment about it and though it was very indirect I knew in his poor communication skills that meant he didn’t approve. So from then on I left the cooking to him, which is how I felt he preferred it. I of course did the dishes always. Downside to him cooking was that there was only one or if I was lucky two meals a day. I had my oatmeal in the morning and then if I was lucky maybe two bowls of rice and vegetables the rest of the day. Though, 50% of the time it was only one bowl. It wasn’t until day 10 on the sea that I started finding the canned tuna to add to my meals out of necessity. In the beginning I couldn’t tell the difference between sea sickness and hunger, but as the sea sickness subsided I realized I was spending most of the day and going to bed hungry.
Eventually I adapted to the lack of food like I did to the sea sickness, but that didn’t stop fantasies. I fantasized about any fast food restaurant, about ice cream, and this very specific fantasy of a peanut butter sandwich made with oatmeal cream pies as the bread. I haven’t had peanut butter since I left the US, so that’s one of the things at the top of my list.
More about being at sea! After a week or so I started to get really sick of the smell of nothing but salt water. I would take deep breaths and be left uncontent. I missed the smell of leaves or of any vegetation mixed in with the fresh air. I even started smelling this piece of wood on the boat just to smell something different.
Another observation was that on every single day of the 19 journey I saw a bird. Even in the middle of the ocean, thousands of miles from land. We saw a total of 5 ships during the journey. During one 12 hour period we saw 3 vessels, which led to the conclusion that we were crossing a shipping route between Brazil and Europe. We mostly saw these ships at a distance, never closer than 5 miles or so. Closer to the Carribean we saw a cruise ship looking like the Las Vegas of the ocean. It always felt odd to see another ship. We would go days without seeing anything but water, but then there’s another ship that has a very relatable experience to the one I’m having – spending days at sea with similar trials and tribulations.
Sailing is extremely boring. There is an autopilot that does the steering and an automatic alarm that goes off if we get close to other ships. So you literally don’t have to do anything. Instead I spent time reading, listening to podcasts that I wisely downloaded before leaving, and just staring out and watching the waves hit the side of the boat. It left way to much time for thinking. At points it was extremely depressing. I thought alot how this is what real extreme cases of depression must feel like. Being trapped somewhere where with no end in sight. Surrounded by water the only way off the boat is to jump in the water, which is desth because you’ll never be found. Not to worry, I wasn’t that depressed, but I did start to miss my family and friends a lot more. The anticipation of getting home made it pretty tough to watch those waves hit the side of the boat day after day. Thinking of how my family and friends especially think I’m amazing or stronger than most for traveling and being so independent and adventurous made me act extra strong so I wouldn’t let them down. It’s nice to have forms of encouragement like that along the way.
I had some Bible study podcasts downloaded and it one we fittingly went over the flood. Needless to say, I had a new perspective. Also seeing rainbows after that instilled a renewed appreciation of God’s promise to us.
We had one suprise squid hop onto the boat. I even saw him land next to me as I was sitting in the cockpit at the time. Other times you’d come outside to see flying fish that unfortunately jumped into the cockpit. If they were lucky they got saved before they baked in the sun. Also leaving the Canary islands we had several instances of dolphins swimming along with us. For the first two nights around sunset the would entertain us by jumping and zig zagging around the boat. As we got further out we didn’t see the dolphins again until Antigua.
I’ll wrap up my sailing journey with some general info. The boat was probably approximately 3000 miles the route we took. It was a 30ft (10m German boat) catamaran with two cabins. My side of the boat had my bed, a workshop with all the navigation equipment and the bathroom. The other side had the captains bed and a kitchen and table for eating. No fridge. The cabins were spacious, but I still was unable to stand straight up in them. At first, all the bending over caused me to tweak my back, but stretching helped fix that problem.
So that was the journey. God blessed me once again and kept me safe through another naive wild idea! Above picture of me on the toliet in my cabin. Hopefully I’ll be home soon! I can’t wait to endulge in some gluttonous American food!