4,700miles is a long way to sail – most weekend sailors might spend a couple of nights at sea and consider 100miles to be quite a trip. It’s a very different experience when you start talking about spending several weeks on a small boat, especially far from the coast (and therefore help) and in the company of people you didn’t know well before casting off.
Firstly, the expanse of the ocean can’t be under-estimated. Waking up surrounded by endless waves in all directions and, at night, complemented by the bright forever of the universe above – It’s never the same though – each watch brings different colours, movement and constantly changing kaleidoscope of experiences – in storms the swells rising behind the boat tower above, sending our little boat surfing with wind tearing our hair and spray lashing relentlessly our face – then one feels small. Very small, at the enormous majesty of nature. I learned my place in the universe – and it is a little one!
Then, there is respect for what we are doing – respect starts with preparing well. Thinking about meals, thinking about route planning, all the ‘what-if’ scenario’s – we need to be totally self-contained and self-sufficient which means a lot of lists – this is also where experience counts. So many little things we learn, like buying lots of packs of pasta rather than 1 large pack – sure the 5KG of Pasta is cheaper per KG than the 500g version. BUT, if the 5KG version gets split while at sea, you’ve lost 10meals…little things, but important ones!
Respect also means respect for each other – we sign a code of conduct before joining the trip but it is much more than this – it is looking out for each other. When one person is not feeling well, they have a responsibility to tell the others, not to hide it. Why? – well, because firstly the rest of the crew are there to help each other and everyone needs help at some point – secondly, for safety … because the person not feeling well might get worse and end up having an accident or even going overboard which would put the whole crew in jeopardy…We have a responsibility to ourselves and to each other and to share openly when things are wrong.
There are indeed so many learnings from the trip but mainly, I would say, the learning is that we can accomplish anything if we are determined and if we have the support of others – we can face the storms of the ocean and discover it’s raw beauty, we learn to spend time to talk and truly understand the people around us, we learn respect and tolerance and, we even learned to sail as well!
Andrew | St Helena Trip - October 2022