So as I mentioned, we have been away. On 10 May, only two weeks after launching the boat, we sailed away from our home. We didn't get back until 15 August. Along the way, we visited two countries (the Faroe Islands and Norway), we crossed into the Arctic Circle for the first time, experiencing 24 ours of bright daylight. In practical numbers, we sailed about 5000 kilometers, but only did 6 loads of washing. It sounds like plenty until you realise that your knickers only got washed 6 times in over 3 months.
These trips are a challenge in many ways. They challenge you logistically, in terms of taking all the right things, and stowing them in the right places. You are constantly aware you are one mistake away from turning into a shipwreck. There is no room for complacency. They can challenge you maritally, as you spend three months with one person (who in my case has a different agenda and different adventuring thesholds to myself). I missed home. I was constantly anxious.
Why do it?
My mum blames it on my husband. This is only partly true. I adventure because "none of us are leaving here alive". We have one life, and the entire planet is our home. By sailing, you discover travel and adventure the old fashioned way. Its slow. You are in charge - no travel company transports you in a few hours from one country to the next. You get yourself there, usually in some kind of catatonic and exhausted state if you are sailing short handed. You make friends more easily, you feel more individual and alive. I was certainly afraid, and that makes me an anxious crew member, but I am also brave because I went. I can still see the treasure of sailing to new countries, and I am enhanced by it, even if sometimes I don't like what I see. Its not a simple thing, and I am still processing the voyage.
I spent a lot of time negotiating with myself to get me to the next day, or week. Sometimes it was really hard. I realise that voyages are much easier if you get on with the crew (a loaded sentence if there ever was one). I know my crutches when I am scared and depressed. I know I need to reduce my dependency on these. I know what I am not good at. I know the Lofoten Islands are beautiful. I know that I am good at sleeping in 24 hours of daylight.
I know nothing is ever perfect.
Next time I go, we will take less muesli and tea bags, but more coconut and chocolate. We will remember our spray decks. I hope we will be kinder to each other and I will have learned to worry less and live in the moment some more. Maybe we will have learned to accept each others differences and feel less challenged by them. Either way, we have an abundance of shared memories and a rich tapestry of images. Soaring mountains, sea eagles, bountiful fishing, the icy cold when we wanted it to be warm, dragging our anchor and grounding the boat, nearly losing the dinghy, the pilot whale cull, the midnight sun, exciting arrivals to new landfall, the black army of sinister starfish, and so much more. We will not forget Summer 2017 in a hurry.