Life at Sea
I’m currently living on a sailing boat, journeying round the coast of Britain. The trip is run by South West Marine Training, and is called the Round Britain Experience (as is the boat) — aside from a previous two day excursion, which involved motoring round a harbour, I’ve never sailed before. This is one hell of a learning experience.
This is almost the hardest trip I’ve ever done. Harder than riding a bicycle on my own 4000 miles round Britain’s coast. Harder than cycling the 120 miles to Brighton and back in the rain. Harder than climbing the highest road pass in Scotland with 15kg of luggage. It’s a leap of faith to live on a boat for three months with three people you have never met before. But each day I learn a little more about the boat, discover a little more about the ocean, and feel a little less sick.
There have been days that have begun before dawn, the tides and the wind needing us to rise early. We have stood on deck watching the sun rise in the wake of the boat as the wind catches the sails, powering us forward towards the next unknown land. There have been days that have ended in the early hours, where we’ve used the stars and the moon, the beams of lighthouses and the blinking of navigation buoys to guide us safely into the harbour. There have been days where we’ve relaxed on the sunny deck, toes wiggling in the breeze, the sunlight dancing on the waves. There have been days where we’ve huddled shivering under the spray hood, the deep swells of the sea tossing the boat like a twig, mocking this plastic tub that has dared to brave the waves. We’ve endured gale-force gusts, stinging rain, biting wind and rough seas. We’ve seen guillemots and gannets dart over the waves, and had dolphins ride alongside the boat, playing in the bow waves. I’ve seen puffins and solar halos for the first time in my life. The ocean is an endless adventure.
We might anchor, we might tie up on a mooring buoy, we might go to a marina. I love the transient nature of this life — our home is wherever we end up that night. I love looking at the other boats on the marina and thinking, “that’s where I live.” I love seeing our yacht floating on the surface of a calm loch. We go wherever the wind takes us. When you can sail, the world is your oyster.